He writes that “the question of Beauty takes us out of surfaces, to thinking of the foundations of things.” In other words, we can also experience the world as beautiful because of its rational structure and our ability to grasp that structure through thought.
Think for instance of the geometric structure of a crystal, or snowflake, or nautilus shell.
Or consider the complexity of the fact that the reintroduction of the wolf in Yellowstone National Park changed the course of the rivers due to a chain reaction of cause and effect through the food web, a process called a trophic cascade.
This reinforces Emerson’s emphasis on the interconnection between all members of the natural world; as observers of nature we are confronted with one giant, complex process that isn’t of our own making, but that we can also understand, and get a mental grasp on, even if only partially, and be awe-struck in that process of understanding.
To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.
The close observer of nature sees a river in constant flux, even when the river’s water is frozen and everything appears to be static and unchanging for a time.
So in Emerson we might find the resources for seeing evolution and the drive to survive as a beautiful rather than an ugly process, governed by laws that tend to increase reproductive fitness and that we can understand through observation and inquiry.
And lastly, Emerson points to the relation between what we take to be an individual and the rest of nature as a quality of the beautiful.
To help you with this I recommend this little experiment with color blocking.
Our goal here is to create a bold composition with loud but harmonious color combinations, vibrant hues, and strong graphic elements.