The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
by Andrea Elizabeth
During one of the Q&A’s, Fr. Maximos was asked if man-made things have a logos. Fr. said no, only natural, God-made objects do. I would propose that man-made objects have a different logos. This is a combination of a God-created and man-manipulated logos, meaning intention. I believe God created nature to be somewhat manipulated, or cultivated. The discussion was many faceted covering things like gmo’s, atomic bombs and sky-scrapers which were strongly felt to be very unnatural. Items worked for use in the Church were not designated as having a logos. I believe that artificially (in the Aristotelian sense) manufactured items are imbued with a creatively inspired logos that God has given man the ability to bestow on his creation. There are three possible categories for these logoi: consecrated for good, evil, or for secular use. Even if an Auschwitz gas chamber were made, I don’t think it is totally without a logos. The stones and metal have been abused. They are still performing their God-given functions of strength and distribution, but to their dismay are being used for ill. I think decommissioned Auschwitz is a shrine to those whose lives were lost, the devil’s enslavement of the Nazi soldiers, who still have a logos by the way, and the abused materials that made the buildings.
To say a manufactured product, which also includes fine art, has a divine logos is to say that God determined that that piece would be made exactly as it was. This is how Calvinists view the Bible. Contrarily, if we think that the stories in the Bible were also influenced by human free will, then the Bible is a combination of divine and human intention.
It’s kind of like God is the grandfather of man-made things. Grandchildren have the DNA of the grandparent, but of three other grandparents as well.
Back to naturally created things, I saw a PBS show a while ago that said that geology is changed when man is present. I wish I could remember more, but I think it was saying that man’s simple act of breathing chemically changes his environment. If that is true, then nothing is untainted by human manipulation.
By the way, I don’t agree with Aristotle’s quote in my title either. There was a similar division proposed in the lectures between the outward appearance and inner essence of a thing as well. I don’t think the outer and inner are so divorced from each other. St. Maximus taught that Christ came to heal divided things. Granted inner and outer isn’t listed in his famous five*, but still. The superficial is a respected part of an object and can communicate a lot about it, like a face in an icon does. It does take spiritual sight to see the divine, but the divine doesn’t destroy the created thing, which is the whole point of the burning bush. The fire and the bush are significant.
*created and uncreated, intelligible and sensible, heaven and earth, paradise and universe, male and female. from here, which is not where I originally got it. I think it was from Dr. Joseph Farrell’s introduction from St. Maximus’ Disputation with Pyrrhus, but it may have been from On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ.