Qualities of Classics
Classic describes moments when the human mind peaks in its grasp of the true, the good, and the beautiful. There is no canonical agreement of what makes a classic a classic. However, there do seem to be certain qualities without which the term classic would seem a compliment misapplied:
The excellence of a classic is such that it seems to enjoy an inexhaustibility of meaning. The opposite of a classic is a period piece, fad, momentary, or provincial thing with glitzy celebrity.
Classics melt borders geographically and temporally. Classics are as at home today as they were yesterday – and maybe even more so today as new developments make their insights even more relevant and more obviously true.
Classics jostle how we see the world. Classics are subverse of petty and sectarian orthodoxies and ideologies. In a classic, the might be triumphs over the grip of the status quo.
Hope follows like a corollary to excellence, universality, and shock. Hope has universal appeal and opens previously unexpected horizons. Hope enlarges our sense of possibility and invites participation.
Classics are fruitful in two ways: they spawn other classics, and over time, more is found in them than was even suspected by the original authors. Classics are perennials that rise to new life with each new opportunity. Millennia later their insights may be vindicated as they could not have been when first created. In the presence of a classic, standards rise and thus critical thought is encouraged.