The Conflict between Mimesis and Concupiscence in the Fine Arts
by E Michael Jones
After a few centuries of meditation on passages in Scripture like “Logos is with God,” the Church Fathers came to understand that the One was made up of three Persons united in love to each other. Their love for each other was so intense that it overflowed into the creation and love of the universe where it became apparent as beauty, leading Augustine to conclude that “beauty originates from God Himself.”
The fate of the social order depends on the soul’s ability to apprehend this beauty because beauty like truth and goodness is a transcendental and is coextensive with being. If the souls of the young were trained to love beauty, then “the effluence” of its “fair works” would “flow into the eye and ear, like a health-giving breeze from a purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from earliest years into likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason.”
Art by its nature involves what Aristotle called mimesis, by which he meant imitation of nature. Art “imitates the divine and ideal order of things” which goes by the name of logos. If, as Plato taught, artists were gifted enough to discern beauty “amid fair sights and sounds,” if they could convey that skill in recognizing and creating beauty to young people, they would “dwell in a land of health” and “receive the good in everything.”
There are those, however, who cannot imitate nature without distorting it. A return to mimesis will spell the end of the perversion of art which characterized the 20th century. Existence is still waiting to call essence into being. Beauty is its eternal manifestation, and mimesis remains the most formidable defense against the attack on logos that has made the world we live in ugly as sin.
459 full-color pages, hardcover