C.S. Lewis’ Thoughts on the Arts
In starting this blog to encourage and promote creativity alongside the Good News of Christ, I’ve run across many interesting quotes. Today, I have three from C. S. Lewis.
On Our First Encounter with a New Art
“To every man, in his acquaintance with a new art, there comes a moment when that which before was meaningless first lifts, as it were, one corner of the curtain that hides its mystery, and reveals, in a burst of delight which later and fuller understanding can hardly ever equal, one glimpse of the indefinite possibilities within.” – Out of the Silent Planet
On Wanting to Be Original in Creating Literature and Art
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” – Mere Christianity
On Creating Interest, as the First Duty of Art
“To interest is the first duty of art; no other excellences will ever begin to compensate for failure in this.” – Selected Literary Essays
I explored this last quote a bit. I found an excerpt from John-Mark L. Miravalle that gives us food for thought. The author refers to Lewis’ quote in Beauty: What It Is & Why It Matters:
“. . . representation is a powerful means of communication – and it’s possible to communicate evil or falsehood through images as well as through speech. When that happens, it’s a deeply immoral event . .
“Representation that alienates from truth or discourages from virtue is not okay. . .
“Eagerness to communicate a truth or moral principle can, however, if not prudently directed, lead to the second kind of representational failure. This happens when an attempt is made to communicate truth or goodness but not through an engaging sense image. In this case, at best, you get order without surprise.
“This is, essentially, propagandist imagery: boring, obvious, insistent. Instead of incarnating an insight in a sense image, it employs familiar formulas, tropes, and stereotypes. It’s a failure of art. . .
“But this, too, has a moral dimension because it’s an abuse of the aesthetic medium and a denial of a basic human need – the need for beauty.”
How have these quotes helped you think more deeply about the art you enjoy and the art you create?
- C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), author, poet, Oxford and Cambridge professor, and Christian apologist.
- The first Christian book I read, right after I accepted Christ, was Mere Christianity. I’ve been reading works by C. S. Lewis ever since. (The Chronicles of Narnia at least twenty times. . . be sure to read them in published order!)
- More C. S. Lewis quotes on my blog, The Sovereign.
- Curtain photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA on Unsplash
- Pinterest photo by Adrien Olichon on Unsplash