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On beauty

Summary

Francis Spufford weighs what it is and does – and what it isn’t.

Summary

Francis Spufford weighs what it is and does – and what it isn’t.

Transcript

I do think that the beauty you find in the world points onwards and sometimes beyond it. I think it’s one of the ways in which experience has chinks in it which open to reveal something wider and vaster and more astonishing. But I think you have to be careful with words like beauty, because it isn’t only a beautiful world, and the beauty it shows is sometimes heartless. The most beautiful animals are often the predators. Tigers look great; less great if they’re chasing you through a jungle. And beauty is in itself not kind, it just … it just is.

So it isn’t so much the beauty of the world that speaks to me, it’s the way that – I don’t know – a condition of light or something seen at the corner of your eye can seem to be disclosing purpose, purpose that doesn’t deny any of the difficulty or drawbacks or ugliness in the world, that has a story to tell that includes those things but can made the widest sense.