Monday, April 13, 2020

Taking a living interest

We have seen pictures of martyrs enough, and saints enough, to regenerate the world. I ought not to confess it, but still, since one has no opportunity in America to acquire a critical judgment in art, and since I could not hope to become educated in it in Europe in a few short weeks, I may therefore as well acknowledge with such apologies as may be due, that to me it seemed that when I had seen one of these martyrs I had seen them all.

They all have a marked family resemblance to each other, they dress alike, in coarse monkish robes and sandals, they are all bald headed, they all stand in about the same attitude, and without exception they are gazing heavenward with countenances which the Ainsworths, the Mortons and the Williamses, et fils, inform me are full of “expression.”

To me there is nothing tangible about these imaginary portraits, nothing that I can grasp and take a living interest in. …

It is impossible to travel through Italy without speaking of pictures, and can I see them through others' eyes? …

If I did not so delight in the grand pictures that are spread before me every day of my life by that monarch of all the old masters, Nature, I should come to believe, sometimes, that I had in me no appreciation of the beautiful, whatsoever.
Source: The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

Those who have actually seen someone die for their faith know what it is to “take a living interest in” them. The other side of that is Jesus has risen, and they now get to be with and “see him as He is.”

This has me curious as to what Twain put into Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, written at the other end of his career.

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