Tuesday, May 26, 2009

But Look anway.

If I have internet in Florence I will be sending lots of pictures to this blog in June. Woo Hoo!

Warning. We Hibernate in the Summer

As I am out of school and not supposed to post from home, there will be very few posts this summer, I think. So if you visit every day, be prepared for a very conservative (as in unchanging) blog.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

To the Air

They look at you with gaze eternal, bright
The clouds and sun, the lords of sky and soil,
And fill you, as a basin, with their light
Till very Emptiness shines as a foil.
The bleached clouds make perfect fifthes ring
For sky is neither overwhelmed nor brash
And like the crystal curtain of the rain,
The light processes downward like a wash.
And from my glassy realm that colors all,
Resplendent visions do my eyes embrace
For here the languid tart airs of the fall
Join with the airs of joyful springtime’s grace!
Not air are you, O Neighbor, Firmament,
You are a pool of water heavensent!

> An essay inspired by the ideas from a chapter in a dissertation written by a

> Q: When is a merely personal opinion no longer merely personal?
> A: When it comes from the imagination.
> You’ve probably all had the experience (and if you haven’t you’re behind in
your life experiences), of being deeply moved or impressed by something without
knowing why. Like when I saw a Rocky-mountain wildflower and immediately
identified it with Tolkien’s Niphrediphil, or when a dream├ęd pinnacle of stone
frightened me beyond all previous nightmares by saying “One.” If we think about
such things too hard (and even if we don’t) we can find edifying lessons in such
things for ourselves. But in the mystic mind of George MacDonald, these lessons
are more than just “private revelation;” they are much more, approaching the
power of objective fact.
> No human artist creates from nothing. From this, MacDonald draws the
conclusion that when an artist does make things, he uses the materials given to
him by God. Hence, by necessity, the makings of the artist are more than the
artist could ever have in his mere intentions. As one person differs from
another, so do their perceptions of this more-ness. When one person perceives
more-ness where it truly is, their perception is true, whether anyone else sees
it or not. And the imagination is one of the faculties by which this
individually perceived more-ness is seen.
> Although I know of no defense offered by MacDonald for this assertion
concerning the imagination, such a defense does exist.
> Consider first the phenomenon of color. What we call color is the result of
interaction between the thing seen and the one seeing; it does not exist in the
thing seen itself. In the case of color, it is absurd to suppose, however, that
because the attribute of color is a subjective phenomenon, the relationship
between the thing and the color was not the result of a specific Intention of
God the Creator. Supposing such a thing would make God seem a slob, denying
artistry to a significant aspect of the psyche when He gives such artistry to
far less significant psychological elements.
> When we see something outside ourselves as uniquely moving (or as anything,
for that matter) by means of our imagination, this perception of the unique
value of the thing, like the perception of color, is also the result of the
interaction between the seer and the thing seen. So if one finds a particular
landscape numinous, for example, such a perception will be the result of the
union of the landscape with their imagination. God knew from all eternity that
that particular person would have that reaction to the thing seen and designed
the thing that way so as to evoke the reaction. In the case of colors, the
reaction, though it itself was not the object perceived, was symbolic of
something about the object, at least that the object reflected light waves of a
certain range of frequencies. In the case of the numinous response, one could
say the same thing, that the feeling of numinousness is symbolic of the fact
that the object manifested God’s presence in a haunting way.
> Either the imagination is always a faulty instrument of perception, the moods
it perceives having no correspondence in the object perceived, or it is not, and
there can sometimes be something in the object that corresponds to the mood felt
in the imagination. But it is not commonsensical for the imagination to be an
always faulty instrument. Consider the imaginatively-perceived emotion of
sadness. While there may not be anything inherently sad in the object
perceived, it is unquestionable that the sadness is a symbol of some amiss-ness
or evil in the object. And once you begin to treat the imagination like a
sense, where can you draw the line that represents where the valid judgments of
imagination end?
> Problems and solutions in this line of thought:
> “John” is a Shakespeare expert who happens to be so well-versed in the
Shakespeare theories of Claire Asquith that her ideas reside in his unconscious
mind rather than his unconscious mind. After seeing a performance of “As You
Like It,” his imagination, moved by the play, moves him to pursue the
priesthood. He does not know it, but the reason he feels this way is because
Orlando and Rosalind, according to Asquith, symbolically represents expatriate
Englishmen who return as Jesuit missionaries and their devotion to the Church,
thus encouraging the romantic feelings awakened by the comedy to be transformed
into ideas of more mystical love. His imagination is engaged in this perception
of the relationship between the romance of “As You Like It” and the self-giving
to the Church required by the priest, it is true, but the perception is
“explainable,” and thus, it seems, is a moderated, and thus untrustable
perception. Does it have objective merit unseen by the unprepared viewer, as
MacDonald would have us believe?
> There is, in fact, no conflict between the imagination’s sight and this
situation. When one reads, one sees words and sees their meanings by observing
the other words nearby and, in narrative, by remembering (sometimes
unconsciously) the words that came before. This is a sort of “contextual” way
of deriving meaning in language. When the imagination sees a meaning in a
thing, nothing prevents context, including what one knows about the thing
unconsciously, from shaping the meaning. God knows all the contextual
situations that one’s imagination would ever be placed in and, as the Eternal
Creator, has created the contextual situations just as He created every
individual thing. Thus, every meaning derived through contextual imagination
does not have less value because of the contextualization.
> But the imagination must be genuinely the thing moved. For a mathematical
person to be interested by the music of Milton Babitt is not an imaginative
happening; interest in mathematics is primarily in the realm of the intellect,
not the imagination. The imaginative interest one might have in profanity also
is not the proper imagination; it is fallen imagination at work that leads to
such a conclusion in that case. Were there any person who, with pure unfallen
imaginative interest, was moved by the music of Babitt, it would be prudent to
conclude that such music probably does have hidden merit. I know of no such
person. But pure imagination moves the minds of the watchers of Shakespeare.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Contra Propaganda

Okay okay, Chesterton didn't really say that. But maybe he would agree. :-) There has been some propaganda on the blog "Kindred Ink" reguarding a form of early American folk dancing known as contra dancing. I hope the offended parties will accept my apology for the use this communist technique. :-)

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Note: Please take this in the spirit it was intended. It is all in good fun. :-)