Monday, July 10, 2017

The past and present beauty of Saturn

If beauty is to stand, the monument that outlast perennial bronze, then it is already posthumous at the moment of its birth.

The Imagist is a photographer and vice versa – the instant preserved, the pressed flower, is not a pledge to remember but the triumph of the future over the present. Then who will speak for and to the present of its own yearning to be wonderful and free?

Blinn's animations and Cassini-Huygens's telemetry are both in their ways reliable depictions of Saturn. Only the god escapes, who is also the father of all the gods.

But is it the case that either denudes the old-father of some sacred dignity? To the contrary, clothed in the glories of colour and movement, the imaged planet is as far from us as the old god, indefinitely removed, knowing we shall never clap eyes on him in the same room or in the fields or on the battlefield. The glamour 'that is upon him' of distance and time's absolute is not undone by codec and gamut: “that you do no work / and will live forever”.

It is enough to know that he exists. Our pictures are – expensive, compulsive – simple acts of worship.

And if these images of Saturn are at once beautiful and posthumous acts of worship dislodged from the co-presence that distinguishes natural from artificial beauty
(Beethoven, deaf, teaches that music in composition is its pure presence)
then observations of Saturn prove that the invisible and inhuman beauty of Saturn as he is Now that we infer from Saturn then, in imagination or by instruments, continuously graces what it is to be, this summer evening in a garden in England in fading light.