This poetic summary resonates deeply – the search for green eternity as opposed to ‘mere astonishments’.  I’ve always been baffled by sensationalism or the desire to shock as a motivation in itself, rather than as a possible by-product of creating something fresh or innovative. 

See an incisive essay – or indictment – of shock-for-shock’s-sake art in Theodore Dalrymple’s bracing Our Culture, What’s left of it: ‘Trash, Violence, and Versace: But is it art?’

See also Borges on two types of aesthetic and the bestellar review, complete with a mosaic of quotations and metaphors, of Adam Nicholson’s magnificent The Mighty Dead: Why Homer matters.  


‘They say Ulysses, tired of astonishments,

Wept for love at once again seeing his Ithaca

Humble and green. Art is like that Ithaca

Of green eternity, not of mere astonishments.’


Source: Jorge Luis Borges, Arte Poetica, 1958, quoted in Alberto Manguel, Homer’s The Iliad and the Odyssey: A biography (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007), p. 228; Dalrymple reference: Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2005, pp. 140-52

Photo credit: FrankWinkler at


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