"The thing in your last letter with which I most want to disagree is the remark about Beauty and nature: apparently I did not make myself clear. You say that nature is beautiful because of its shape, colour and motions, and perhaps a little because of association. Now these colours etc are sensations in my eye, produced by vibrations on the aether between me and the tree; the real tree is something quite different - a combination of colourless, shapeless, invisible atoms. It follows then that neither the tree, nor any other material object can be beautiful in itself: I can never see them as they are, and if I could it would give me no delight. The beauty therefore is not in matter at all, but is something purely spiritual, arising mysteriously out of the relation between me & the tree: or perhaps as I suggest in my Song, out of some indwelling spirit behind the matter of the tree - the Dryad in fact. You see the conviction is gaining ground that after all Spirit does exist; and that we come in contact with the spiritual element by means of these "thrills." I fancy that there is Something right outside time & place, which did not create matter, as the Christians say, but is matter's great enemy: and that Beauty is the call of the spirit in that something to the spirit in us. You see how frankly I admit that my views have changed."
Friday, October 28, 2011
The Friday Clive
From The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, 29 May 1918. Note: Lewis's conversion to Christianity happened in 1931. I love seeing the chronology of Lewis's thinking and believing.