November 30, 2017


Chasing Lions: Don Quixote in Pursuit of the Beautiful (Jacob Terneus, 11/30/17, Imaginative Conservative)

He conceived the strangest notion that ever took shape in a madman's head, considering it desirable and necessary, both for the increase of his honor and the common good, to become a knight errant, and to travel about the world with his armor and his arms and his horse in search of adventures.[1]

Cervantes's Don Quixote has an urgent desire to encounter beauty. Wishing to know essentially the most wonderful things of the world, and through those encounters to become more beautiful himself, he is drawn to act--to name, to fight, to love, to do something worth doing. Through difficult trials, his spirit remains indomitable, but not in the sense of William Ernest Henley's "unconquerable soul," for this strength is not autonomous, but instead rooted in a knowledge of the good.[2] To some, Don Quixote is "a madman" with strange notions and archaic tendencies. Indeed, he is mad. However, his actions arise from a madness of a certain sort, a madness for "honor and the common good." Unsatisfied with merely reading about feats of chivalry, Don Quixote quests after them, seeking a personal engagement, down to the glorious details of "his armor and his arms and his horse." His own beauty is caused by his mad desire for the beautiful. [...]

Recognition of beauty, if it does not lead to lion-fighting in every case--although it will for some--is always heroic. It requires two things: knowledge and love. When man pursues beauty, he takes it into himself and becomes beautiful through it; a perpetual beauty-seeker, such as Don Quixote, is, therefore, a beautiful man. In the course of naming Dulcinea de Toboso, Rocinante, and his other friends, Quixote becomes aware of what they really are and, knowing them as good and pleasing, embraces them. He leads a fantastical, errant life, but he does so by continually jumping into adventures for beauty, soaking in its pools wherever he can find them. Even if Don Quixote is insane, he causes the rest of us to rethink our sanity.

...that he is the sane one.

Posted by at November 30, 2017 5:42 AM