undimmed by familiarity

Thought proceeds by scheme and sequence; it manipulates, puts things where it wants them, makes different designs from any that the eyes see, and, what is more, know that it is doing so. Conscious art selects from nature and by selecting adds. In the process the forms of nature inevitably take second place; their edges are blunted to fit the ruling design, and the complex final effect, being composed of many parts, diminishes the being of any one part. Yet the price of this triumph is violation of our senses. We evidently see at any moment a sequence of sharp particulars—the light at a window, a tree trunk, the gray of a rock—single, peremptory impressions, moving in endless specificity across our vision. A part of our life belongs to them; we know the world and feel at home in it not least through these sure reminders. Happiness, one sometimes thinks, is clarity of vision, moments when things stand clear in sharpest outline, undimmed by familiarity as if revealed for the first time. Such moments bring back, so to speak, the memory of Eden sparkling on the first day of creation, the tree of life soaring in the middle, and if Eden be related to our childhood, they bring back childhood too. In this spirit Gladstone entitled his book on Homer Juventus Mundi, the world’s youth…
—John H. Finlay, Jr., “The Heroic Mind,” Four Stages of Greek Thought (Stanford U. Press, 1966)

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