My wife was watching a crochet show on TV. While I am not particularly interested in crochet, I started to pay attention because it was instructive. The lady demonstrating, held up a finished pattern, and she showed you step by step how to get there. You start out with a blank cloth stretched on a form, waiting for the stitches to be overlaid.
Somewhere in the function of making something, beauty started as an accident, like missing a stitch along the way. Whoever did that first crochet pattern discovered that if you lost a stitch here and picked it up over there, and then repeated that, eventually you had a pattern. After that, the possibility for other patterns emerged with a bit of imagination and experiment. Sooner or later, someone was methodically creating patterns for no other reason but the urge to create beauty. There is nothing in the weaving of an item to decree it should be beautiful, except that the creator liked it that way, and the instinct is mysterious, and lasting. Mysterious because it comes from a place we cannot explain, and lasting because others will pick up on the pattern and carry on. Beauty on purpose is how an art form comes to be.
Such patterns are perhaps noticed and copied from nature, where beauty happens organically. In the plant world, geometric forms emerge, and patterns attest to the harmony of something behind it all. The animals know, but they know instinctively. It’s how a spider understands how to weave a web that is perfect in every way. There is an animal instinct for beauty that explains why a bird’s nest is round and uniform, or why birds and fish fly in a particular formation instead of in random spurts of individual will. They know something of the bigger picture without knowing that they know it. Mankind on the other hand is blessed with consciousness. A human being notices a void, latches onto those patterns, and becomes a contributor to beauty rather than a mere spectator.
It’s most interesting that beauty can be learned and is an act of the will. I think that human beings choose beauty as a form of transcendence. Knowing they will not last forever, they create something that will be preserved by another who appreciates the beauty. The beauty is copied and passed down, and that is how something that was merely practical becomes something more.
All of this fills me with a wondrous sense of hope. There is endless possibility in the human endeavour to choose beauty. This is hope sailing off into the future, its vector, eternity. Unconsciously, we are playing to a silent audience - God. What does the Bible say? We are just a little lower than the angels, and God has indeed set eternity in the human heart. It shows up every time we create beauty on purpose.