Friday, August 04, 2006

Too deep for tears

There is a great summer stillness under the high cloud blanket. It is our 48th wedding anniversary and that distant commemorated day seems such a long time ago.

An autumnal theme is starting to prevail in M3: dry grass, leaves fading from pale buff to umber black, often fretted with holes by July insects or scribbled with their leaf mines.

There are a few weary bees on the flowers gathering the last of the honey and pollen.

I sat thinking about the reasons why some people respond passionately to nature while others are little moved, or indifferent. Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Judgement (1790) argued that ‘enjoyment’ is the result when pleasure arises from sensation, but judging something to be ‘beautiful’ has a third requirement: sensation must give rise to pleasure by engaging our capacities of reflective contemplation.

The ardent naturalist seems often to be moved to a deep and meaningful contemplation by what is perceived as the beauty of wild things.

Maybe Wordsworth had read Kant. His Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood completed in 1804, the year of Kant’s death, ends with the lines:

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

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