The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives


…the judgement that someone is unliterary is like the judgement ‘This man is not in love’, whereas the judgement that my taste is bad is more like ‘This man is in love, but with a frightful woman’. And just as the mere fact that a man of sense and breeding loves a woman we dislike properly and inevitably makes us consider her again and look for, and sometimes find, something in her we had not noticed before, so, in my system, the very fact that people, or even any one person, can well and truly read, and love for a lifetime, a book we had thought bad, will raise the suspicion that it cannot really be as bad as we thought. Sometimes, to be sure, our friend’s mistress remains in our eyes so plain, stupid and disagreeable that we can attribute his love only to the irrational and mysterious behaviour of hormones; similarly, the book he likes may continue to seem so bad that we have to attribute his liking to some early association or other psychological accident. But we must, and should, remain uncertain. Always, there may be something in it that we can’t see.

—C. S. Lewis (An Experiment in Criticism, pp. 110f.)


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