Monday, July 30, 2007

A Fear of Death

I think that fear of death is perhaps the root of all art, perhaps also of all things of the mind. We fear death, we shudder at life's instability, we grieve to see the flowers wilt again and again, and the leaves fall, and in our hearts we know that we, too, are transitory and will soon disappear. When artists create pictures and thinkers search for laws and formulate thoughts, it's in order to salvage something from the great dance of death, to make something that lasts longer than we do. The woman after whom Leonardo da Vinci shaped his beautiful Mona Lisa is already dead many centuries, and so too is Leonardo -- but his work will still be standing a hundred years from now, and longer. It will go on shimmering in a gallery of the Louvre in Paris, unchangingly beautiful, forever smiling with the same sad, flowering mouth.

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