Thursday, June 02, 2005

Between Mozart and Darwin

Cardinal Ratzinger once said in an interview, " Yes, art is elemental. Reason alone as it’s expressed in the sciences can’t be man’s complete answer to reality, and it can’t express everything that man can, wants to, and has to express. I think God built this into man."

Which would explain why Mozart and Boticelli, among others, have long made me suspect on purely secular grounds that evolution is a terribly incomplete account of how humans came to enjoy the abilities and desires we experience. I can easily understand the survival value associated with the ability to reason, bound as it is to foresight of probable consequences of alternative possible actions and achievement of intended consequences. But what is the survival value of the gifts of a Bach, Mozart, Dante, Boticelli, Ezra Pound, Guillaume Apollinaire, Gertrude Stein, Michelangelo, Hemingway, Shakespeare? And these gifts point, not to an aberration peculiar to genius, but to a capacity - and more than that, a desire, a drive - to enjoy the aesthetic dimension that is universal among us.