Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More snippets of goodness

More snippets of goodness from Thomas Howard's Chance or the Dance?
  • He calls poetry "the noblest utterance", and says that "Image making is what delights us about certain people's conversation." He says that poetry carves shapes using words. "...it is in poetry that we try to speak the language that is suggested to us by our imagination as the real language of things." He says that poetry comes through the midwifery of the poet. Poetry halts us and tells us to to look at the prosaic more closely. Through it, the clutter of daily experience becomes epiphany.
  • On application of the imagination as part of reason: "And when we do exercise it, it is in order to bring about a heightened awareness of the experience in question. To do so is to reach across a gulf that cannot be spanned ... by the analytic faculty in us."
  • He talks about the new myth, in which imagination is cast off as foolishness, and points out that in this myth, connections are stripped away, reducing things down to what they think is "truth". But this is a confusion of truth with mere facts.
  • Related to this idea was one I found profound. That when you strip things of their context, of their interconnectedness and meaning, paring away to nothing but a set of facts, the thing is lessened. It is no longer itself when it is -only- and merely itself.
  • "...if we scrutinize the way we do things, we shall find that we have festooned everything with formality and that nearly every act is loaded down with gestures that bespeak much more than can be discerned in the functional demands of the situation itself."
  • The new myth says "Politics and commerce and urban planning and medicine and housekeeping--here is where the real stuff is."


Anonymous said...

I am thinking about grace and eternity, and the gracefulness of simplicity. Somehow gracefulness is connected with the letting go of power, as each must do in the dance in order to have a dance. When I was a tad my grandmother had a well under her house, as many people did, and the pump was in the sink, with a bucket. Drinking cool water slowly from a metal dipper from the bucket seemed the most wonderful thing. There was no guzzling. In every department of life, from hunting to conversation, there is the dance. But I wonder if the grace and the dance do not lie deep within the things themselves? Comment?

Suzanne Marie DeWitt said...

Dr. Ken,

Your comment is so rich that I am going to respond in 3 parts. Here's the first.

Your comparison of grace-full-ness and letting go is apt.

Being male, you probably have not had the experience of being led while dancing.

It is not an easy thing to do.

You have to stop thinking about what it is you are to do next, and which foot to move where and when. You must simply relax, pay attention, and follow.

It is very difficult indeed. Becoming good at being led in the dance is not child's play. Acquiring the skill takes practice and humility and frustration.

So as you say, grace is in the following.

Speaking of which, how goes the writer's block?

Suzanne Marie DeWitt said...

To Dr. Ken, part 2:

Most of my experience of drinking from pumps did not involve the use of a dipper. It was straight out of the pump, ice cold, splashing face and shirt.

While growing up (during my dad's Walden Pond phase) we lived in a one-room cabin with no running water. We would go to a neighbor farm and fill big old metal milk cans with water and bring them home. The metal dipper you describe was used to get water out of the ungainly things, for all purposes. For drinking, dishes, and once in a while, for hair washing out in the yard.


The taste of that water, both fresh from the pump, or from the metal can (which came from a pump) was unique. Your comments brought it back, for which I thank you.

Suzanne Marie DeWitt said...

Dr. Ken, part 3, on the dance within:

Yes, I believe they do (lie deep within us).

In some creatures it is easy and obvious to see. Bees for example. Bees dance. The dance is ingrained in their being, and they do what they are. Bees are in some way the very dance that they dance.

Or flowers, or atoms, or solar systems.

All dance away to the beat of their drummer creator, and we watch as if the miraculous were mundane.

If these things all manifest the dance so observably, how much more must it be a part of you and I who are made in the very image and likeness of the Lord of the Dance himself?

Ike said...

The dance is that of humanity living in the triune God. "In his Sacred and Profane Beauty, the Lutheran phenomenologist of religion Geradus Van der Leeuw claims that dance is lived meaning; in it, body and spirit commune both with each other and with the world. Dance is the rhythmic mimesis, or representation of a theological reminiscence: that God is love, that is, movement" (Murphy 233). That living and ecstatic habituation in the Trinity is prayer and what flows from such a living, is the redemption and sanctification of the world and ourselves.