Why are we reading?

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened, and its deepest mystery probed? … Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaning, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?”  (Annie Dillard)

You’ll never look at water the same again

shawnknol7

“When he’s not watching the kids or tripping over his cat, stay-at-home dad and photographer Shawn Knol (Photoelasticity on Reddit) takes absolutely stunning, close-up photos of water drops. His macro images are vibrant, sharp, and striking, showing every last detail of the water’s luminous surface and reflections.

Knol enjoys playing with color and texture in his beautiful photos. Whether he’s shooting countless droplets suspended on a spider web, zooming in to capture the bold texture of a feather beneath a drop of water, or photographing iridescent rainbow colors dancing on the surface of the water, the results are always exquisite.

The photographer captures his images using an entry-level DSLR, his two lenses, extension tubes, a flash unit, and a homemade diffuser, proving that the most expensive gear and studio equipment isn’t necessary as long as you have creativity and vision. Knol also shows his resourcefulness in using common household items for his photos, such as glitter, tulle, or even different T-shirts for brightly colored backgrounds.”

Check out the rest of his photos here.

Beauty as the Splendor of Being

Michael Novak reflects on the Splendor of Being:

Our tradition teaches us to think of beauty as “the splendor of being.” Why is this? From the point of view solely of nature, that is, what we can know only by unaided human reason, as (let us say) Aristotle did, we can recognize that even the humblest things – a leaf, a snowflake, a single tree in a broad field – stand out from nothingness. These things are here with us, they ex-ist, and the more attention we pay to them, the more radiant in their singularity they become. To exist is not only to be, but always in some way to be beautiful. A singular, unrepeatable existent radiates with flashes of distinctiveness and individuality, its unique form, its own shape, color, and whole panoply of qualities.

For instance, if on a sunlit day on the beach, we put a grain of sand in the palm of our hand and pay attention to it, it becomes marvelous in its colors and its tiny shape. If, on a winter day up north, we pause to attend closely to an individual snowflake that has fallen on the fur cuff of our coat, we can marvel at its own unique and splendid pattern. We can imagine that there’s no other one like it. We can marvel at the incredibly refined detail with which it is wrought.

Please read the rest of this article here.