Beauty, like art, has many levels from low to high. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” says Keats in Endymion; “Surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!” exclaims poet Louise Bogan; but beauty now ascends to Sara Teasdale’s lament: “Oh, beauty are you not enough?”; and now beauty steeply climbs through Camus’: “We must simultaneously serve suffering and beauty”; finally, nearing the peak, resides Rilke’s truth: “Beauty’s the start of terror we can hardly bear.”
If beauty is meaningful in and of itself, then art is the eternal, often tragic, struggle to create the beautiful. The despairing, defiant cry of the human heart towards virtue is, ultimately, a thing of beauty.
Imagination, then, is required to find the uniquely beautiful meaning for our life, but it is not enough. Does not the art of such imaginative striving also have to pass through a tunnel lined, to some extent at least, with suffering and images of despair? If so, then imagination travels with Camus’ defiant hope on the deep foundation of pure joy.