Friday, April 1, 2011

Collecting Manna: Jeremie Begbie on Bach

What Bach's music provokes us to a subtle relationship between natural and artistic beauty, where the two are not seen as fundamentally incompatible, but where natural beauty is the inhabited environment, trusted and respected, in which artistic beauty is born, even if born through sweat and struggle. The vision of making beauty is not one that sees the artist as striving for creation out of nothing, fashioning and foisting order where none is given, or pursuing a fetish for originalty...still less is it one of defiantly challenging God...

The vision is rather of the artist, as physical and embodied, set in the midst of a God-given world vibrant with a dynamic beauty of its own, not simply "there" like a brute fact to be escaped or violently abused, but there as a gift from God of overflowing beauty, a gift for us to interact with vigorously, form, and (in the face of distortion) transform and in this way fashion something as consistent and dazzlingly novel as the Goldberg Variations, art that can anticipate the beauty previewed and promised in Jesus Christ. (from "Created Beauty: The Witness of JS Bach" in Resounding Witness, ed Begbie et al (Eerdman's, 2011), 108)

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