Beechworth detail
Beechworth detail
Beechworth detail

Beachworth | Victoria | Australia

That Unnameable Something | Scott Bennett | 2011 | Oil on Belgian linen | Three panels: 30″ x 40″ (each) | Private collection

“The first is itself the memory of a memory. As I stood beside a flowering currant bush on a summer day there suddenly arose in me without warning, and as if from a depth not of years but of centuries, the memory of that earlier morning at the old House when my brother had brought his toy garden into the nursery.


It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me; Milton’s “enormous bliss” of Eden (giving the full, ancient meaning to “enormous”) comes somewhere near it. It was a sensation, of course, of desire, but desire for what? Not, certainly, for a biscuit tin filled with moss, nor even (though that came into it) for my own past… And before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased.

It had taken only a moment of time; and in a certain sense everything else that had ever happened to me was insignificant in comparison. – C.S. Lewis”

I’m very fond of C.S. Lewis as a deep and sensitive thinker. I read many of his works years ago but Surprised by Joy touched me particularly and memorably. Though I’m not religious per-se, I felt a kinship with him as he described and gave a name to a profound experience I’d also had at a similar age, that he termed “Sehnsucht”.

He gave examples of what sparked this in him particularly:

“That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World’s End, the opening lines of “Kubla Khan”, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.”

Afternoon's Fire

Companion piece:
Afternoon’s Fire (Road Gums)
Scott Bennett
Watercolour & pastel on paper
Private collection

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