C.S. Lewis on Art Appreciation

"A work of (whatever) art can either be “received” or “used.” When we “receive” it we exert our senses and imagination and various other powers according to a pattern invented by the artist. When we “use” it we treat it as assistance for our own activities. The one, to use an old-fashioned image, is like being taken for a bicycle ride by a man who may know the roads we have never yet explored. The other is like adding one of those little motor attachments to our own bicycle and then going for one of our familiar rides. These rides may in themselves be good, bad, or indifferent. The “uses” which the many make of the arts may or may not be intrinsically vulgar, depraved, or morbid. That’s as may be. “Using” is inferior to “reception” because art, if used rather than received, merely facilitates, brightens, relieves, or palliates our life, and does not add to it….
...We sit down before the picture in order to have something done to us, not that we may do things with it. The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way (there is no good asking first whether the work before you deserves such a surrender,  for until you have surrendered you cannot possible find out."
-C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism is brilliant. I'm reading it right now (along with a couple other books). I'm thoroughly enjoying it; it's almost like a big essay, where Lewis discusses how to interpret (& appreciate) all forms of art; including music, but it's chiefly focusing on literature.  Lewis explores just about everything, from multiple biased views. It's really been interesting.  

Mr. Lewis, has such a beautiful way of wording things, & of putting things into perspective. Lewis is ever proactive, tactful, biased, open-minded, old fashioned, far-seeing, very annoying & very wise, all at the same time. :)
What are you reading? 
How do you decide what you read?
Why do you like to read? And why?

Books are important. They are part of our heritage. When properly taken care of, they can be passed on from generation to generation. Books greatly impact how we think, & judge things. Our brains are like sponges.  Books & media can shape our lives. We need to be wary of what we are soaking our brains in. Hopefully not in a stagnate pool, filled with algae & muck, but in the cold clear flowing water of eternal life! (The Bible.) I enjoy reading for pleasure mostly. I love fantasy & historical fiction. (Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, I think. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, quoting Dr. Seuss to some extent.) But I also love good ligature. Dearly love it. The rich way things used to be written, the word-maven expressions, & how people communicated in general, is so much more elegant (& appealing), then today's generation of writers, (or texters). In a way, it's kinda ironic, because I'm terrible with words.  Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, C.S.LewisElizabeth GaskellJ.R.R. Tolken, E.D.E.N. Southworth, Emily Bronte, etc. Are some of my favorite writers. 
"Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can't see it. So quietly submit to be painted---i.e., keep fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone. You are in the right way. Walk---don't keep on looking at it." ~The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Vol. 3: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963
As an artist myself, I especially enjoy this quote. (Because I can relate to the painting part.) Sometimes, I can get stuck on a picture, painting on it for hours & getting nowhere. Eventually I might despair, & set it on the shelf for a couple months or so, until I feel re-inspired to finish the thing. But God never despairs, or puts things on the shelf. He works all things for His glory 24/7. We need to press onwards. "Further up, & further in!" ~The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis.

-Justin Sweet-
I also think this quote is also beautiful, because Lewis talks about submitting to God. Resting in the assurance of His plan; a grand mural, that paints a picture, so glorious, that we can't even imagine what it looks like! It's a picture of life. For freedom, Christ has set us free! He paid the ultimate price for us, so that we might live. We need to stand firmly rooted deep in His Word, repent daily of our sins & walk by faith in Jesus Christ, while taking every thought captive. We need to pursue all our work with gusto, at whatever point in life we may be at, & whatever the work may be. House work, office work, volunteer work, etc. Everything we do, should be done in His holy name!
"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ... does not cry: 'Mine!'" ~Abraham Kuyper 1837-1920
With art being the topic, think about todays society, & how the general public perceives art. This nation was established on Christian principles, as our Founding Fathers were inspired in their creation of a culture where Faith would flourish. But it didn't last long, our nation today is gradually slipping further & further away from its origins, & heading down a course that will not only leave burdens on the backs of our children, but oppose the flourishing of that faith as well. The world tends to reject things of beauty. Go to your local art museum, or take a walk downtown (if you live in a city), most of the "art" looks twisted, abstract or just plain unexplainable. Those who prevail in the arena of “ideas” will ultimately control any culture.  Hollywood, CNN, the modern liberal arts, the green movement, our increasingly communistic government. Wow. Keep thinking about it. It's big, & getting bigger. We gotta wake up!

A good painting, shouldn't be something when hung on the wall, the viewer only sees for the first few days. (Like when you rearrange the furniture in your room. It's new for a day, then it's the normal.) It shouldn't just disappear, & blend in with the rest of the room. A good painting should always draw the viewer in, with renewed interest & appreciation for it. We shouldn't hang just anything on our walls, to fill the void space. We should place something meaningful & beautiful there.

Justin Sweet  Running to Aslan, the Great Lion. 
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it." ~Mere Christianity 
Be creative, fresh & original. "Pursue things of beauty: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ( Phil. 4:8) Be yourself, today you are you! That is truer then true! There is no one alive who is you-er then you! (Dr. Seuss again.) 
No matter what we do, or where we go, isn't it always awesome to look back &  say- I was out there, I was alive, I did that. God made all of us exactly like we are, with talents, & weaknesses. Embrace your gifts, create a memory, do something special. Enjoy life. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a painting is worth a lot more. Generations will reap what we sew; we can pass on a curse or a blessing to those we will never know. (Deut. 11:26-28Let's leave a history that generations to come will be proud of!

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