How art resonates with us

For my final quotation from Ryken’s Culture in Christian Perspective, here are two excerpts on what good art does for and to us. I have noticed this phenomenon especially in my favorite writers like Walker Percy, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and Marilynne Robinson. It’s that “aha” moment of reading something we always knew, but never knew how to express. It is why the best artists and writers stand the test of time, because their perspective transcends time and touches something that is common to man.

“When we see what is inside us projected and named, we recognize it. Dorothy Sayers has written that ‘when we read the poem, or see the play or picture or hear the music, it is as though a light were turned on us. We say: Ah! I recognize that! That is something which I obscurely felt to be going on in and about me, but I didn’t know what it was and couldn’t express it. But now the artist has imaged it forth for me, I can possess and take hold of it and make it my own, and turn it into a source of knowledge and strength.'”


“Novelist Walker Percy has said that ‘in art, whether it’s poetry, fiction, or painting, you are telling the reader or the listener something he already knows but which he doesn’t quite know that he knows. What the artist does is simply to validate the human experience and to tell people the deep human truths which they already unconsciously know.'”

Thus, as Ryken says, art is a mirror in which we see ourselves, even if only dimly now.



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