I sat still, my head down, staring at a spot between the numbered tiles. I could feel his inquisitive brown eyes on me. Finally, I shrugged and said, 'I don't know.
David Tammet, Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing: Encounters with the Mysteries and Meanings of Language
This willingness to continually revise one's own location in order to place oneself in the path of beauty is the basic impulse underlying education. One submits oneself to other minds (teachers) in order to increase the chance that one will be looking in the right direction when a comet makes its sweep through a certain patch of sky. The arts and sciences, like Plato's dialogues, have at their center the drive to confer greater clarity on what already has clear discernibility, as well as to confer initial clarity on what originally has none. They are a key mechanism in what Diotima called begetting and what Tocqueville called distribution. By perpetuating beauty, institutions of education help incite the will toward continual creation. Sometimes their institutional gravity and awkwardness can seem tonally out of register with beauty, which, like a small bird, has an aura of fragility, as when Simone Weil in Waiting for God writes:
The love of the beauty of the world . . . involves . . . the love of all the truly precious things that bad fortune can destroy. The truly precious things are those forming ladders reaching toward the beauty of the world, openings onto it.
—Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just (1999)