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The iconoclastic movement of eighth- and ninthcentury Christianity, renewed in the Protestant Reformation, and the abhorrence of the figurative in Islam are all expressions of this fear. Though iconodules (the defenders of icons) have arguments upon which they can call, they accept as crucial a distinction between the image and the prototype. Athanasius of Alexandria writing in the fourth century says ‘The person who bows to an icon, bows to the king in it’ (quoted in Nes 2004: 14), and St John of Damascus, formulating a defence in the eighth century, says ‘I do not worship matter; I worship the creator of matter who became matter for my sake’ (John of Damascus 726/2003: i.

But neither can we simply go on appealing to the claims of work, leisure, and family as foundational. We have lost the thing that animates their claim on us, a sense of meaning to our lives. If it is to be restored, we must turn to what I have called The Re-enchantment of the World 27 ‘spheres’ of meaning, some larger frame within which we can find renewed enthusiasm for the common round of work, leisure, and family life. One natural way of putting this is to say we are seeking ‘something to inspire’ us.

Otherwise it remains simply pigment on canvas. To listen attentively to the music of Beethoven is to be transported into a world of sounds and harmonies in such a way that we participate directly in the imaginative genius of Beethoven. But if such experiences are to be more than subjective diversions, or even emotional ‘highs’, they must inspire in a fashion something similar to the religious case. Barzun quotes the French novelist Romain Rolland, author of an enormously successful Life of Beethoven, first published in 1902, who recalls the experience of hearing Beethoven’s symphonies that led him to undertake the biography.

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