When does a creative work become timeless? This thought came to me as I listened to the performances at the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition 2018. All of the competitors were spectacular. My preference, and third overall, was Su Yeon Kim of South Korea. Her performance of Rachaninoff for the finals round is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn-UXp8_F8U&t=597s The piece actually starts about seven minutes into the video.
Although a piano competition prompted the question, the thought can be applied to any product of the human mind. What lifts a work out of its own time and culture and allows it to speak to everyone at all times? The Mona Lisa? Michelangelo’s David? Basho’s haiku?
For philosophers, the examples are more difficult to find, because they require the examination of individual works. Spinoza’s Ethics, which I have never read, probably comes close. The works of some philosophers would need an almost paragraph-by-paragraph review. Still, beneath the dross there is gold.
What makes human effort timeless?