Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Monday, March 04, 2013

Abundance, creation, art--

Detail of "Spectral Reflections" by Robert Stephan,
from "North Carolina Glass: In Celebration of 50 Years of Studio Glass in America"
The Fine Art Museum, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina

I've been reading portions of saints Athanasius, Augustine, and Maximus the Confessor--have found much of it interesting, very different from our own day. The early church was a bit too busy with persecution and heresy to focus on art, though Augustine has wonderful things to say about the act of creation by God and about gifts and the perception of the beautiful.

The lovely thing that he says about the nature of creation is that it comes from God's abundance. Once creation exists, it needs--human beings need--to move closer to the fount of things, to "the Fountain of Life" in order to be filled with light and "given perfection, splendour, and bliss." To draw close to the light and fragrance and beauty of the creator is to "cry out in joy, confessing your glory, like a man exultant at a feast." A greater abundance gives rise to our abundance.

And isn't that what we feel about art--the best of our art, if it is not some dreary, tweedling thing of pretension and faux intellection and rejection of beauty--that it comes from a great spill of feeling, a waterfall of light that flashes right through us? Creation is a gift, born in abundance and the desire to make.


  1. 'Spectral Reflections' looks wonderful - catching light and channeling it out in prisms. This is a lovely choice of art for this blog posting.
    I also like your description of how art can feel when it resonates in us through creation, and the enjoyment of it generally.

    Not so sure about Athanasius, Augustine, and Maximus the Confessor though. It sounds remarkably 'New Age' to me! The words are lovely, but the meaning is vague.
    "I feel my light source resonating with the vibration of life' sorta thing!
    Oh.... but you know me and how I am about such things.... : )

  2. Well, of course one is boiling oodles of pages down to one little blip or two. I have trouble with that with my own work!

    I'll put up some more of those glass pictures once I find the misplaced (of course) catalogue... Right now I'm not sure of the names for most of the artists. Glass can be so splendiferous.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.