“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
That is from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who is one among our gallery of honored men and women at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts. Wonder and gratitude come first. Only if you are capable of wonder can you delight in the beautiful work of art. Only the grateful son can really understand the father.
Need I say that wonder and gratitude are rarely fostered in our time? The “critical” stance is. Most such criticism is canned stuff. And the people who engage in it do not know how absurd they really are. Imagine someone almost entirely ignorant of classical music daring to express a “critical” opinion about Bach because he did not do something or other that everyone now is supposed to do. Imagine someone who cannot place an Italian painting within two hundred years led by his instructor to look down on Caravaggio because—you may fill in the blank.