Art and the Triumph of Beauty Over Horror

Can you hear the bells ringing in the graveyard?

Ryan Frawley
Counter Arts

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Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

“And what, finally, he felt, understood, and enjoyed, sitting there with folded hands, looking into the black slats of the jalousies whence it all issued, was the triumphant idealism of the music, of art, of the human spirit; the high and irrefragable power they had of shrouding with a veil of beauty the vulgar horror of actual fact.”
— Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

The world is ugly

You know that. Or at least think you do.

It’s what you’re supposed to think. A mark of refinement, of distinction. Of compassion. This is a world that forever turns itself over, the waves ceaselessly rolling at the shore, throwing up the dead bodies of yesterday to bleach and rot on the sand.

There’s no shortage of suffering. You have yours, held close to your chest, a child’s tooth rattling in a matchbox. And if you ever run short on reasons to be miserable, it’s never been easier to concern yourself with the cares of the rest of the world. To take a stance on the fashionable conflicts of the day, to make lofty pronouncements about justice and freedom and mercy.

But who stands outside the world to judge it? Not you. Not me. And what is the world if not us? This graveyard of sand is…

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Ryan Frawley
Counter Arts

Novelist. Essayist. Former entomologist. Now a full-time writer exploring travel, art, philosophy, psychology, and science. www.ryanfrawley.com