We seek in art an image of eternalization. If for a brief moment our spirit finds peace and rest and assuagement in the contemplation of the beautiful, even though it finds therein no real cure for its distress, it is because the beautiful is the revelation of the eternal, of the divine in things, and beauty but the perpetuation of momentaneity. Just as truth is the goal of rational knowledge, so beauty is the goal of hope, which is perhaps in its essence irrational.
Nothing is lost, nothing wholly passes away, for in some way or another everything is perpetuated; and everything, after passing through time, returns to eternity. The temporal world has its roots in eternity, and in eternity yesterday is united with to-day and to-morrow. The scenes of life pass before us as in a cinematograph show, but on the further side of time the film is one and indivisible.
And how is this individual essence in each several thing—that which makes it itself and not another—revealed to us save as beauty? What is the beauty of anything but its eternal essence, that which unites its past with its future, that element of it that rests and abides in the womb of eternity? or, rather, what is it but the revelation of its divinity?
And this beauty, which is the root of eternity, is revealed to us by love; it is the supreme revelation of the love of God and the token of our ultimate victory over time. It is love that reveals to us the eternal in us and in our neighbours.
Is it the beautiful, the eternal, in things, that awakens and kindles our love for them, or is it our love for things that reveals to us the beautiful, the eternal, in them? Is not beauty perhaps a creation of love, in the same way and in the same sense that the sensible world is a creation of the instinct of preservation and the supersensible world of that of perpetuation? Is not beauty, and together with beauty eternity, a creation of love?
This suffering gives hope, which is the beautiful in life, the supreme beauty, or the supreme consolation. And since love is full of suffering, since love is compassion and pity, beauty springs from compassion and is simply the temporal consolation that compassion seeks. A tragic consolation! And the supreme beauty is that of tragedy. The consciousness that everything passes away, that we ourselves pass away, and that everything that is ours and everything that environs us passes away, fills us with anguish, and this anguish itself reveals to us the consolation of that which does not pass away, of the eternal, of the beautiful.
And this beauty thus revealed, this perpetuation of momentaneity, only realizes itself practically, only lives through the work of charity. Hope in action is charity, and beauty in action is goodness.
Miguel de Unamuno, "The tragic sense of life", Chap. IX (Faith, Hope and charity).