Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The Only Just Judge"

from a letter by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The only just judge,
the only just literary critic,
is Christ,

who prizes, is proud of,
and admires, more than
any man,

more than the receiver himself
can, the gifts of
his own making.

"Four Found Poems"
in Spinach Days
by Robert Phillips

Garrison Keillor will read it to you if you click here. If you're the impatient sort, you can cut to the chase by jumping straight off to about the 2:57 mark. But you'll miss some other good stuff..

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Denise Levertov, "In Mind"

There's in my mind a woman
of innocence, unadorned but

fair-featured and smelling of
apples or grass. She wears

a utopian smock or shift, her hair
is light brown and smooth, and she

is kind and very clean without

but she has
no imagination

And there's a
turbulent moon-ridden girl

or old woman, or both,
dressed in opals and rags, feathers

and torn taffeta,
who knows strange songs

but she is not kind.

"In Mind"
by Denise Levertov

Thanks, Julie

Rainer Maria Rilke, "As though eternity stretched before them..."

In this there is no measuring with time. A year doesn’t matter; ten years are nothing. To be an artist means not to compute or count; it means to ripen as the tree, which does not force its sap, but stands unshaken in the storms of spring with no fear that summer might not follow. It will come regardless. But it comes only to those who live as though eternity stretched before them, carefree, silent and endless. I learn it daily, learn it with many pains, for which I am grateful: Patience is all!

Rainer Maria Rilke
The passage is posted at Diane Tucker's writing desk

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle, "French Peasant Writer"

When I start working on a book, which is usually several years and several books before I start to write it, I am somewhat like a French peasant cook. There are several pots on the back of the stove, and as I go by during the day’s work, I drop a carrot in one, an onion in another, a chunk of meat in another. When it comes time to prepare the meal, I take the pot which is most nearly full and bring it to the front of the stove.

So it is with writing. There are several pots on those back burners. An idea for a scene goes into one, a character into another, a description of a tree in the fog into another. When it comes time to write, I bring forward the pot which has the most in it. The dropping in of ideas is sometimes quite conscious; sometimes it happens without my realizing it. I look, and something has been added which is just what I need, but I don’t remember when it was added.

When it is time to start work, I look at everything in the pot, sort, arrange, think about character and story line. Most of this part of work is done consciously, but then there comes a moment of unselfconsciousness, of letting go and serving the work.

"Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art"
Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Camille Paglia, "Only Religion Can Save The Arts"

For the fine arts to revive, they must recover their spiritual center. Profaning the iconography of other people's faiths is boring and adolescent. The New Age movement, to which I belong, was a distillation of the 1960s' multicultural attraction to world religions, but it has failed thus far to produce important work in the visual arts. The search for spiritual meaning has been registering in popular culture instead through science fiction, as in George Lucas' six-film Star Wars saga, with its evocative master myth of the “Force.” But technology for its own sake is never enough. It will always require supplementation through cultivation in the arts.

To fully appreciate world art, one must learn how to respond to religious expression in all its forms. Art began as religion in prehistory. It does not require belief to be moved by a sacred shrine, icon, or scripture. Hence art lovers, even when as citizens they stoutly defend democratic institutions against religious intrusion, should always speak with respect of religion. Conservatives, on the other hand, need to expand their parched and narrow view of culture. Every vibrant civilization welcomes and nurtures the arts.

Progressives must start recognizing the spiritual poverty of contemporary secular humanism and reexamine the way that liberalism too often now automatically defines human aspiration and human happiness in reductively economic terms. If conservatives are serious about educational standards, they must support the teaching of art history in primary school--which means conservatives have to get over their phobia about the nude, which has been a symbol of Western art and Western individualism and freedom since the Greeks invented democracy. Without compromise, we are heading for a soulless future. But when set against the vast historical panorama, religion and art--whether in marriage or divorce--can reinvigorate American culture.

Camille Paglia, "Religion and the Arts in America"
Arion Journal, Spring/Summer 2007

Friedrich Nietszche, "A Long Obedience"

The essential thing 'in heaven and in earth' is,
apparently (to repeat it once more), that there
should be long OBEDIENCE in the same direction;
there thereby results, and has always resulted
in the long run, something which has made
life worth living; for instance, virtue, art,
music, dancing, reason, spirituality--anything
whatever that is transfiguring, refined,
foolish, or divine.

Friedrich Nietszche,
Beyond Good and Evil (1886)

Saturday, September 01, 2007