Posts Tagged ‘skoonheidsbeginsel’

Louis Esterhuizen. En gestel John Keats was verkeerd?

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

En gestel John Keats (foto) was verkeerd met hierdie formulering? Dít is die interessante vraag wat David Orrell, bekende wiskundige en wetenskapskrywer, stel op sy gereelde Huffington Postblog. Volgens hom het daar nog altyd ‘n besonder sterk band bestaan tussen die wetenskapsgefundeerde teorië en estetika: “Three of the main aesthetic properties in science are the classical ideals of elegance, unity, and symmetry. Perhaps the archetypal example of a beautiful theory is Newton’s law of gravity, which is the scientific equivalent of the Parthenon, or maybe Grace Kelly. Its design is deceptively simple and elegant [….] People seek out partners with symmetric facial features because they are considered attractive. Physicists seek out symmetries in nature because these allow them to produce simplified mathematical representations (and because they are considered attractive).”

Mmmm … Met bostaande as uitgangspunt word die smagting na (simmetriese) skoonheid uiteraard ‘n doel op sigself en heel tereg stel Orrell (foto regs) die vraag of dié aanname nie dalk besig is om die wetenskap op ‘n roosbesaaide dwaalspoor van essensiële waarhede weg te lok nie … “An obsession with beauty has in the past certainly motivated generations of scientists, but at times has also led them astray,” beweer hy. “The problem usually occurs when a fascination with theory loses touch with the reality check of observations. It’s like falling in love with a pretty face, while ignoring obvious failings and incompatibilities, such as the person’s inability to tolerate your friends or personality.”

Hierna volg hy met ‘n lang, uitgebreide argument waarin gekyk word na wetenskapteorië van die vroegste tye af tot met die mees onlangse. Dit op sigself is die lees werd, maar waarmee ek wil afsluit, is sy slotparagraaf:

“To its many fans, supersymmetric string theory is an exceedingly gorgeous theory – the supermodel of physics – which can encompass all particles and forces in a single adorable package. It has been described as ‘too beautiful’ to be wrong. It isn’t just symmetric, it’s supersymmetric. However, while the theory may be based on an attractive idea–little vibrating strings–the actual implementation is a mess (imagine a supermodel with mental issues). The theory has also failed to make any predictions that could actually be used to validate (or invalidate) it. Theory has again become detached from reality.”

Lê daar nie in daardie slotsin ook ‘n waarskuwing aan die digkuns nie? Want sekerlik is dit moontlik dat ons in ons strewe na daardie “tegnies-perfekte” vers dalk al die bloed uit die pasiënt tap; of dat ons só op loop gaan met die “struktuur” dat die vers uiteindelik vals en oneerlik staan ten aanskoue van simmetriese, tegniese vernuf. Om nie eens van ‘n bewustelike “mooiskrywery” te praat nie.

Kruip skoonheid nie dalk júís in die onvolmaakte (of selfs onvoltooide) weg nie?

Of wat praat ek nou?!

Nietemin, hieronder volg John Keats se klassieke vers.


Ode on a Grecian Urn

Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
      Thou foster child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
      A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
      Of deities or mortals, or of both,
            In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loath?
      What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
            What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
      Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
      Pipe to the spirit dities of no tone.
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
      Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
            Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
      She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss
            Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
      Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unweari-ed,
      Forever piping songs forever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
      Forever warm and still to be enjoyed,
            Forever panting, and forever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
      That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloyed,
            A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
      To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
      And all her silken flanks with garlands dressed?
What little town by river or sea shore,
      Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
            Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
      Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
            Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
      Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
      Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity. Cold Pastoral!
      When old age shall this generation waste,
            Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
      “Beauty is truth, truth beauty”—that is all
            Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

© John Keats (1820 )