10 Pages


ByFérdia J. Stone-Davis

This chapter considers the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo and brings that consideration to bear on how we think about artistic creation. It reviews the biblical text to provide an alternative conception of artistic creation, one that moves from the idea of 'creation' to that of 'improvisation'. The chapter relates this idea of improvisation to the call and response structure put forth by Jean-Louis Chrétien. Chrétien is clear regarding the relation of call, beauty and goodness. However, Chrétien points out that, even in the Socratic dialogue Symposium, 'vision, at every step, produces speech in response' and so concludes that 'visible beauty calls for spoken beauty'. Yet his essay on Jacob's wrestling with the stranger/angel/God entitled 'How to Wrestle with the Irresistible' in his book Hand to Hand: Listening to the Work of Art gives a subtle, nuanced account of beauty that is violent and unsettling.