I have been very much enjoying the writing of Peter Schjeldahl - his clear, sincere voice...
"Mind and body become indivisible in beauty. Beauty teaches me that my brain is a physical organ and that "intelligence" is not limited to thought, but entails feeling and sensation, the whole organism in concert."...
From his Notes on Beauty
"In my experience, an onset of beauty combines extremes of stimulation and relaxation. My mind is hyper alert. My body is at ease. Often I am aware of my shoulders coming down and unconscious muscular tension lets go. My mood soars. I have a conviction of goodness in all things. I feel that everything is going to be all right. Later I am pleasantly a little tired all over, as after swimming.
Mind and body become invisible in beauty. Beauty teaches me that my brain is a physical organ and that "intelligence" is not limited to thought, but entails feeling and sensation, the whole organism in concert. Centrally involved is a subtle activity of hormonal excitation in or about the heart-the muscular organ, not a metaphor.
Beauty is a willing loss of mental control, surrendered to organic process that is momentarily under the direction of an exterior object. The object is not thought and felt about, exactly. It seems to use my capacities to think and feel itself.
Beauty is never pure for me. It is always mixed up with something else, some other quality or value or story, even, in rudimentary forms of allegory, "moral," or sentiment." Nothing in itself, beauty may be a mental solvent that dissolves something else, melting it into radiance.
Beauty invariably surprises me even when I am looking at what I assume to be beautiful-a sunset, say, or a painting by Giovanni Bellini. There is always a touch of strangeness and novelty about it, an element that I did not expect. The element is usually very simple and overwhelming. In the sunset, I may identify something I never realized before about colour; in Bellini, something about mercy."