Thursday, January 15, 2009
Gordon McCabe, having said that I use The Sunday Times for pro-religious campaigning - which, apart from being pretty Looney Tunes in itself, is also, since Gordon appears to have read so much I have written, a palpable lie - now traduces my journalism. I'm not going to respond to this nonsense but I will say something more about religion. In fact, I have long sought a theme for this blog and religion may be the very thing. I have no faith and no system to which I wish to convert people. Aggressive and militant atheists (MA), however, do. Garden variety atheists I can handle, but these people are philistines and usually fools and, on the whole, I would avoid their company, not for fear of their arguments but because those arguments are unlikely to be interesting. I have argued for agnosticism, but this can be advanced one step further. Bear with me, there are many ways in which what I shall try in vain to say next may be tried in vain to be said. Here's one. Some time ago Will Alsop and I concluded that the great dividing line in the human species lay between those who had had an aesthetic experience and those who had not. We further concluded that it was possible, with careful study, to distinguish between these people on the basis of even brief contact. And, finally, we concluded that those without aesthetic experience represented a large majority of the population. I do not believe any MA can ever have had an aesthetic experience - ordinary atheists yes, but MAs no. (In fact, I don't quite see how an aesthetic experience would not at least leave people agnostic, but I am a tolerant, understanding type.) The reason I say this is that genuine contact with art is a transcendent experience of such inexplicable and enduring intensity that it simply could not co-exist with the rank vulgarity of putting signs on buses saying God probably does not exist, nor with any certainty that he does not, nor with any desire to convert people to this view, nor, in fact, with any absolute certainty about anything. The fundamental, almost baptismal (Eeek! Sorry, Gordon.) mark that art leaves on people, the mark identified by Will and me, utterly precludes such behaviour.
There is more to be said on this and I shall say it, but, for now, a family crisis may mean I shall be unable to blog for the next few days.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:18 am