Monday, November 28, 2011

The Radiance of Form

...The architect, by the disposition he knows,
Buildeth the structure of stone like a filter in the waters of the Radiance of God,
And giveth the whole building its sheen as to a pearl.

I welcome you to my new blog.   I have written (erratically) for the past few years at a blog Beatus Est, where I've written on architecture, art, and related topics.   A large percentage of the work that I did there was in terms of criticism, both for good architecture and against.   But over the past few months I've been trying to make my writing more focused on the philosophical aspects of art and architecture. 

Being trained at Thomas Aquinas College in philosophy in the "Great Books" tradition of liberal arts, I think writing on where philosophy intersects the world of art, is where I think I can contribute best.  By no means do I think I am the best at philosophy of art, but rather other subjects which I am interested in, such as architectural craft, history, urbanism and technology, are written about much better by others.  So I intend this blog to be primarily a place of discussion of the deeper matters of art and architecture, how they are influenced by philosophy and indeed how they influence philosophy back. 

To that end I spent a long time trying to find a more appropriate name for this blog.   Not only was I just a touch embarrassed by my poor Latin in the former title, but I wanted to find something that spoke poetically about art itself and architecture.   Listening to a lecture a while ago on literature I was struck by a quotation from the philosopher Jaques Maritain, who called beauty "the radiance of form." 

I sprung upon this phrase immediately as encapsulating both the aspect of beauty existing in the forms of architecture, but also a deeper philosophical meaning of the phrase.   He explains in "An Essay on Art" that the meaning of this term, the "radiance or the splendor, the mystery of a form" is in the "metaphysical sense of this word," that is he means form as the "whatness" of a particular thing.   That in beauty the true nature of something shines forth more clearly than a long series of syllogisms and argument could possibly explain.    This idea of true nature becoming revealed to us through beauty is one that I have been particularly interested in, and one that I intend this blog to explore further. 

I will be attempting to come up with a more regular schedule of posts, though from time to time, like this last month, I've been distracted by other writings that I hope I'll be able to share with you as well.


  1. Hey there. I read Beatus Est pretty often until your long hiatus after your October 2010 posting. I'm glad to see that you're back. The new name is pretty nice, too...although my mind also has a bit of "Radiant City" mixed in with it, which makes me partially regurgitate my meal. But no, I think it's quite fitting. I do have some advice, and I'll write it on your newest post so you'll be sure to notice it.

  2. I love your blog!! I live in Los Angeles, and can I say modern architecture makes me want to vomit. What can we do on a larger scale to influence developers to build in a classical style here? I feel the units would rent faster and as a whole profits would go up

  3. I'm a real estate agent and wish I could do something to "classicize" Los Angeles. Perhaps we could do a survey of commercial and residential homebuyers and statistically prove that homebuyers and renters rent faster from classical structures