In the young Raphael, in the sonnets of Michelangelo, in Correggio’s lily-bearer in the cathedral at Parma, and ever so faintly in my necktie, we feel the touch of a refined and comely paganism that rescued beauty from the charnel house of the Christian conscience. The Renaissance teaches us that the book of knowledge is not to be learned by rote but is to be written anew in the ecstasy of living each moment for the moment’s sake. Success in life is to maintain this ecstasy, to burn always with this hard gem-like flame. Failure is to form habits. To burn with a gem-like flame is to capture the awareness of each moment; and for that moment only. To form habits is to be absent from those moments. How may we always be present for them? -- to garner not the fruits of experience but experience itself? -- to catch at the exquisite passion, the strange flower, or art -- or the face of one’s friend? For, not to do so in our short day of frost and sun is to sleep before evening. The conventional morality which requires of us the sacrifice of any one of those moments has no real claim on us. The love of art for art’s sake seeks nothing in return except the highest quality to the moments of your life, and simply for those moments’ sake.
-- Walter Pater in Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love