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pieperMan’s ability to see is in decline. Those who nowadays concern themselves with culture and education will experience this fact again and again. We do not mean here, of course, the physiological sensitivity of the human eye. We mean the spiritual capacity to perceive the visible reality as it truly is….

The capacity to perceive the visible world “with our own eyes” is indeed an essential constituent of human nature. We are talking here about man’s essential inner richness—or, should the threat prevail, man’s most abject inner poverty. And why so? To see things is the first step toward that primordial and basic mental grasping of reality, which constitutes the essence of man as a spiritual being.

Before you can express anything in tangible form, you first need eyes to see. The mere attempt, therefore, to create an artistic form compels the artist to take a fresh look at the visible reality; it requires authentic and personal observation. Long before a creation is completed, the artist has gained for himself another and more intimate achievement: a deeper and more receptive vision, a more intense awareness, a sharper and more discerning understanding, a more patient openness for all things quiet an inconspicuous, an eye for things previously overlooked. In short: the artist will be able to perceive with new eyes the abundant wealth of all visible reality, and, thus challenged, additionally acquires the inner capacity to absorb into his mind such an exceedingly rich harvest. The capacity to see increases….

The distinguishing and characterizing element in the artistic creativity we celebrate today lies, as I am convinced, in this: we witness an expression of the contemplative life, the vita contemplativa….

For even the most intensive seeing and beholding may not yet be true contemplation. Rather, the ancient expression of the mystic supplies here: ubi amor, ibi oculus – the eyes see better when guided by love; a new dimension of “seeing” is opened up by love alone! And this means contemplation is visual perception prompted by loving acceptance!

I hold that this is the specific mark of seeing things in contemplation: it is motivated by loving acceptance, by an affectionate affirmation. Nothing would be more alien to our sculptor friend and her work than to revile, despise, and distort reality, or explicitly to destroy all ordered form.

Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation

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