The lilacs in Brooklyn

From “On the Asymmetry of Creation and Appreciation,” an essay by Rochelle Gurstein in The New Republic:

[Matthew] Arnold, even though he is ignorantly dismissed today as an “elitist,” had the “democratic insight,” as Trilling put it, that “a human value exists in the degree that it is shared, that a truth may exist but be unalive until it receives assent, that a good may have meaning but no reality until it is participated in.” As I finished reading these sentences to my husband, I felt myself returned to our walk through the garden earlier that day, to all those occasions where complete strangers, enchanted by the beauty all around them, felt compelled to seek our assent, the way their pleasure increased our own and ours theirs, and how, in that moment, we created a shared world between us, but also with Victor and Madame Lemoine, and with all the unnamed gardeners who have tended and continue to tend the lilacs in Brooklyn.

Read the whole article here.