I've been thinking about our capacity to be amazed, in awe, in a state of wonder, how that relates to places we visit and things we see and also to what we read.
For my part, I find enthusiasm very attractive; the facility for having - and crucially, showing - genuine intense interest or eager enjoyment without cynicism or any kind of cultivated nonchalance is a good thing in my book. I find the sort of attitude which is the equivalent of a dismissive shrug or a grudging acknowledgement of the 'it's alright, but ...' kind rather sadly dampening. That's not to say that a critical (in the wider sense) approach which recognises flaws as well as strengths isn't wanted - quite the contrary - but I suppose what I'm saying is don't burst the balloon for the sake of it, don't let artistic snobbery or the desire to appear superior by seeming unimpressed get in the way of a natural reaction, especially a chiefly positive one.
To explain what I mean let me quote a passage from Sarah Moss's Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland, her account of a year spent living in Iceland, discovering its culture and way of life, a book I found enormously interesting and enjoyable. Sarah describes going out one winter night to see the aurora borealis, "watching the green curtain reach across the sky and contract, like the convulsive grasping of a palsied hand. It is the movement that makes them uncanny, as if there must be some consciousness directing the stroking and grabbing of the sky. I stand, and watch, and shiver, and watch some more. I want to stay until the end, but after a while find that there is a limit to how long an intelligent adult can be enthralled by green lights, and go home."
Perhaps it's unfair of me to single out that example when there are, after all, many sound reasons to curtail even the best of experiences, but I suppose what I'm trying to get at is the idea of diminution, the sense of reducing something awe-inspiring or admirable or even simply thoroughly enjoyable to mundane constituents; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and that is where the magic lies, and to be moved by that magic is a fine thing. That's why I rave about books as I do when I find a good one; my reaction may be childlike, but I'll defend that - should defence be needed - by saying that among the reasons for which we read is the hope that we will be affected, amazed, enthralled, uplifted, impressed, excited, and if we are then is it not good to show it?
The image is a detail from the cover of Geraldine Brooks's most excellent novel Year of Wonders.