Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why I Read Mark Helprin

I've posted here and here about Mark Helprin's latest and reading those articles has brought me back to his wonderful collection of short stories, The Pacific. It's paragraphs like the following that make me a fan.

The narrator of Il Colore Ritrovato goes to Venice on orders of his employer, an outrageous opera singer, and he visits the Accademia to view the restored paintings of Bellini.
And although I know that few will listen to or credit this, I think we are in a lost age, in which holiness and charity have been traded for the victory and penetration of knowledge, though all the knowledge in the world has not brought us any further than where we can got without it even in the outermost halls of grace. I believe that more is to be known and apprehended from the beauty of a face than in delving, not matter how deep, simply into how things work, no matter how marvelous that may be. The greatest substance of the world is immaterial, the province of the heart, and its study, cannot be forced or reasoned. Merely to touch upon the edge of things in parsing their mechanics is to forswear their fullness, for the entry to this fullness lies not in science but in art. I cannot prove this, for it cannot be proven, but I claim, assert, and have seen it.

High falutin'? Maybe. Beautiful, though, and that's enough.

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