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Patrick Swift

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Its life depends on the degree to which it is inhabited by mystery, speaks to us of the unknown.
"The Painter in the Press", X magazine, Vol. I, No.4 (October 1960)

Patrick Swift

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The idea of objectivity in the evaluation of pictures introduces the concept of rational and scientific assessment. There are some sciences involved in the making and in the study of pictures, but the art itself is finally not a science and will not submit to scientific regimentation because its life depends on the degree to which it is inhabited by mystery, speaks to us of the unknown. It is simply an avoidance of the interesting difficulty to subject the inexplicable to the process of rational explanation. For since the real pleasures of painting and the reality of its meaning exist in the part of its structure which cannot be explained, all suggestions and pretensions at explanation must lead us away from the area of greatest interest. This is to say that such analysis as purports to lay bare the machinery which makes a painting work makes it a good painting not only leaves out the most important factor, the element of mystery, but actively denies the reality which is the justification for the art at all.

Patrick Swift

In archaic and traditional societies, the surrounding world is conceived as a microcosm. At the limits of this closed world begins the domain of the unknown, of the formless. On this side there is ordered because of inhabited and organized space; on the other, outside this familiar space, there is the unknown and dangerous region of the demons, the ghosts, and the dead and foreigners in a world, chaos or death or night. This image of an inhabited microcosm, surrounded by desert regions as a chaos or a kingdom of the dead, has survived even in highly evolved civilizations such as those of China, Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Mircea Eliade

The revelation in Jesus, just because it is the revelation of the righteousness of God is at the same time the strongest conceivable veiling and unknowableness of God. In Jesus, God really becomes a mystery, makes himself known as the unknown, speaks as the eternally Silent One.

Karl Barth

Look for the mysterious in life. Wherever you look in the white clouds, in the stars in the night, in the flowers, in a flowing river wherever you look, look for the mystery. And whenever you find that a mystery is there, meditate on it. Meditation means: dissolve yourself before that mystery, annihilate yourself before that mystery, disperse yourself before that mystery. Be no more, and let the mystery be so total that you are absorbed in it. And suddenly a new door opens, a new perception is achieved.


No country can afford to have its prosperity originated by a small controlling class. The treasury of America lies in those ambitions, those energies, that cannot be restricted to a special favored class. It depends upon the inventions of unknown men, upon the originations of unknown men, upon the ambitions of unknown men. Every country is renewed out of the ranks of the unknown, not out of the ranks of those already famous and powerful and in control.

(Thomas) Woodrow Wilson
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