Upcoming Art of the Beautiful Lecture

February 6, 2015

Following upon Ms. Julia Yost’s lecture on “Writing Religious Beauty in the Modern Era,” the next installment of this year’s Art of the Beautiful series, co-sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and the Catholic Artists Society, will take place Saturday, February 14, at 7:30 at the Catholic Center at NYU in New York City. Father Bruno Shah, O.P., will present “Film, the Aesthetics of Death, and the Culture of Life: Picturing Motion after Modernity.” Fr. Shah writes: “In Walker Percy’s novel, The Moviegoer, main character (and moviegoer) Binx Bolling states, ‘movies are onto the search but they screw it up.’ Similarly, I think movies are onto ‘the search’ about the meaning and beauty of life but too often ‘screw it up.’ That hasn’t made me give up on looking for the search, though. On the contrary, I very much enjoyed screening and discussing films at my parochial assignments, St. Vincent Ferrer (NYC) and St. Thomas Aquinas (VA). I dare add, the parishioners and non-parishioners (often present) found themselves significantly enriched as well. “As an endeavor in ‘Redeeming the Culture in Christ,’ my talk explores fundamental aspects of how movies are given to experience. Rather than interpret the message of this or that movie, I attempt to unfold the structure of movie-experience as such. I find that the movie is categorically ‘of death.’ As an original medium of the late modern era, the movie is constituted by a kind of death, a kind of separation of mind and body. Movies are ‘moving pictures,’ whose movement is technologically fabricated and mentally synthesized, simulating embodied life, not re-presenting it. The movie-experience produces what I call an ‘aesthetics of death.’ “As a unique form of modern ‘art,’ then, the movie is constituted by the need to be saved from death! The making and watching of movies is an important way to develop an art of the beautiful, as well as to cultivate a “critical sense, capable of discerning true values and authentic needs” (Pope St. John Paul, Evangelium Vitae). Christians can promote faith’s own “aesthetics of death,” by which the structure and elements of movie-experience can be, as it were, redeemed. Rather than see life in terms of death, we can see death in terms of life and the hope for resurrection. To that end, I have found a few movies that demonstrate just that.” There will be a reception following the lecture and Q&A. The event will finish with sung Compline (the Church’s night prayer) in the chapel at the Catholic Center. Saturday, February 14, 2015, 7:30pm The Catholic Center at NYU 238 Thompson Street (Between W. 3rd and Washington Square South) New York, NY 10012

Image:  Mikalojus Ciurlionis, Truth.  1905.


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