Saturday, August 18, 2007

A terrible beauty is born

Striking modern art.

Love those blues.

Like a heavenly flower.

c6 brain
Museum quality.

If you happen to be an oncologist, you know what I'm going to say next. Yes, these gorgeous items are cancer cells. From top to bottom, breast cancer; unspecified; unspecified; brain cancer.

I've read that even amid the horrors of war, soldiers have sometimes found beauty to admire: tracer bullets and phosphorus like fireworks, smoke billowing from an explosion. It would seem that nature likes to tease us by making some of its worst phenomena pleasing to the eye. There might be a philosophical lesson in this, but if so, don't ask me what.

Here is a satellite photo of Hurricane Dean:

Hurricane Dean

UPDATE 9/2: Speaking of visual beauty in weapons of war, I ran across the following description in Elizabeth Bowen's The Heat of the Day. It's a nighttime air raid in
World War II London (Bowen had lived there throughout the war):
Harrison, back again, stood in the middle of a street, otherwise empty, illuminated by a chandelier flare. During the pulse of silence between the overhead throbbing and the bark of the guns, the flare made the street like a mirrored drawing-room. Above where Harrison stood peering at something jotted on an envelope, white-green incandescence flowed from the lovely shapely symbol, which slowly descended as it died -- the sky to the east reflected flamingo-pink nobody could have taken to be the dawn, the west was jagged with flames.
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Lawrence Auster said...

"There might be a philosophical lesson in this, but if so, don't ask me what."

How about this?

God's infinite existence and intelligence underlies everything that is. Everything that exists, including evil and falsity, partakes in some way of God's existence. Even evil partakes of some image of goodness, though a distorted image, otherwise it could not be attractive to the evil doer. The same with disease. What is disease, but a distorted form of a healthy body? What is a cancer cell, but a distorted form of a healthy cell? Without health and wholeness, there couldn't be disease.

The point is, evil and disease do not have an independent existence. As Augustine says in The City of God, evil does not exist; it is an absence of the good. Evil consists of a soul, created by God, turning away from God, but the evil doer still partakes of qualities of the God who created him. In the same way, disease consists of cells, created for a certain purpose, turning away from their true purpose, but they still partake of the intelligence and beauty of their original creation.

Rick Darby said...


What a profound answer to my half-serious question. Thank you.