- “It was a common theme of the ‘nature sermons’ that had made Laurillard one of the most sought-after preachers in Holland. Using simple, vivid images, he portrayed a Christ not only in nature, but also intimate with the processes of nature . . . and inseparable from the beauty of nature. . . . Finding beauty in nature was not just one way of knowing God, they proposed; it was the only way. And those who could see that beauty and express it – writers, musicians, artists – were God’s truest intermediaries. For Vincent, this was an electrifying new ideal of art and artists. Before, art had always served religion . . . . But Laurillard preached a ‘religion of beauty’ in which God was nature.” [Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, Van Gogh: The Life (Random House, 2011), pp. 171-172.] This new understanding changed everything for the young van Gogh. “Dat is het” (“That is it”), he said. He had struggled to adhere to his father’s stern understanding of religion; now it need no longer control him. The artist had freed himself, a bit.
Are there any revealed Truths for Humanists, scientific naturalists and non-theists? Most certainly, yes, not in the sense of a truth handed down from an external source such as a god or an ancient writing, but in the sense of a Truth revealed from within. Unless the person is suppressing or denying something, she is the best judge of what she is thinking, feeling and experiencing. For each of us, the inner life experience is the Truth revealed from within. We know this, and yet after all these centuries of human history, it still seems to come as a revelation to many.
- Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019): “This kind of beautiful, immersive narration exists for its own sake but it also counteracts the most common depictions of black urban life from this time — the frozen, coerced images, Hartman calls them, most commonly of mothers and children in cramped kitchens and bedrooms.”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Heitor Villa-Lobos dedicated most of his seventeen string quartets to musicians, or to his longtime companion Mindinha. Consistent with this, these works do not present grand themes but mainly reflect and express the composer’s inner life. This statement from his 12th String Quartet best summarizes their essence: “Richness through the heart always . . . The experience of the man himself, then onto paper.”
- String Quartet No. 1 (1915, rev. 1946) is a series of brief mood pictures.
- String Quartet No. 2 (1915)
- String Quartet No. 3 (1917)
- String Quartet No. 4 (1917)
- String Quartet No. 5 (1931)
- String Quartet No. 6 (1938)
- String Quartet No. 7 (1942)
- String Quartet No. 8 (1944)
- String Quartet No. 9 (1945)
- String Quartet No. 10 (1946)
- String Quartet No. 11 (1947)
- String Quartet No. 12 (1950): Villa-Lobos composed this quartet while he was hospitalized.
- String Quartet No. 13 (1951)
- String Quartet No. 14 (1953)
- String Quartet No. 15 (1954)
- String Quartet No. 16 (1955)
- String Quartet No. 17 (1957)
- Boulez, Pli Selon Pli for soprano and orchestra (1957–58, as Improvisations sur Mallarmé 1–2; completed 1959–62; revised 1983; revised 1989): usually, we think of revelation as a sudden occurrence but according to the composer, and the work’s title, this revelation is “fold by fold.”
- Gloria Coates, Symphony No. 7, "Angels" (1990) expresses the uncertainty that is the opposite, or dark side, or revelation.
- Brad Mehldau, “Suite: April 2020”, is a musical exposition on our inner lives as the COVID-19 pandemic started.