“There are many things in life that put us in a state of acute pleasure, a state of being ‘opiated’. And there are many things in life that make us feel marginal or lateral or on the sidelines. But what is deeply and abidingly extraordinary about beautiful things is that they do those two things at once. They put us in a state of bliss at the very moment that they make us feel marginal or secondary, happy to be a supporting rather than a central character. None of us is the center of the world but each of us can get into the mistake of believing that we are the center of our own world. Beauty relieves us of this. It not only puts us on the sidelines but makes us acutely happy to be there on the sidelines.”
Elaine Scarry, Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value, Harvard University, 2011. The quote comes from a lecture given for a series hosted by Harvard University entitled “Harvard Thinks Big 2”. Source.
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