on your glory we build our empire

Beyond the frame of the painting there is, no doubt, the tumult and boredom of everyday life—itself an unceasing and futile pursuit, consumed by projects; but within the frame lies the plenitude of a suspended moment, stolen from time, rescued from human longing. Human longing! We cannot cease desiring, and this is our glory, and our doom. Desire! It carries us and crucifies us, delivers us every new day to a battlefield where, on the eve, the battle was lost; but in sunlight does it not look like a territory ripe for conquest, a place where—even though tomorrow we will die—we can build empires doomed to fade to dust, as if the knowledge we have of their imminent fall had absolutely no effect on your eagerness to build them now?…Yet how exhausting it is to be constantly desiring…We soon aspire to pleasure without the quest, to a blissful state without beginning or end, where beauty would no longer be an aim or a project but the very proof of our nature. And that state is Art…For art is emotion without desire.
—  Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog