Sometimes the best thoughts occur in the middle of the night.

My dad on harmony, form, and literature, over at Quiddity..

An excerpt:

The soul delights in harmony. On the other hand, the senses delight in particular perceptions. As a result, there is a perpetual potential conflict between the senses and the soul. If the senses take in too much too fast, the soul can become disturbed. Therefore, the role of the mind is to bring order to what the senses perceive.

You can see this fairly easily in the natural sciences, where the mind orders physical reality under universal laws without which the physical world makes little sense. You can also see the impulse in the moral sciences, though it is quite a bit more difficult to achieve the desired harmony. Ethics, for example, seeks principles that govern human behavior while politics seeks principles that govern human society, each seeking a harmony of soul and community.

What struck me in the night, or maybe it was in the morning, is that this delight the soul dervies from harmony is another argument for long sentences. Let me explain. There’s a delight in simple harmony, but the soul likes even more if the harmony can be extended. In fact, ultimately what the soul wants is for everything to be harmonized. It cannot be content until it reaches that point.

And here, Dad claims that C.S. Lewis had style:

We remember CS Lewis as a saint of apologetics; perhaps the greatest apologist since St. Augustine according to some. One reason he was so great as an apologist was because he could express his thoughts with such astonishing clarity. I used to imagine I could write like him if I just imitated his form. Maybe so, if I’m going to write about the rules of a baseball game.

But Lewis could write so clearly because he understood so clearly; because his mind was so orderly. He had a place for every idea that entered his mind, and those places highlighted relationships among the ideas rather than obscuring and concealing them. As a result, he could write with precision when precision was called for, analogy when analogy was called for, and beauty – well, always, it seems, with beauty.

And, if you are up for a bit longer read, consider his thoughts On the Necessity of Long Sentences.


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