And sometimes, like now, the veil is lifted a little, and the fog clears. Only enough to make out shadows and vague forms, nothing concrete, but if I strain my eyes a path is just discernible. And I see why this must be so, and perhaps even where this is leading – snippets of a vision and hints of an explanation. And it is only through these fleeting periods that I find the faith to press on. May God grant me more of such revelation. But then again that would not leave much room for his marvel to work and my faith to be strengthened.
What is art
Beauty without the beholder,
Poetry without the peruser?
Paint strokes and vapid sights,
Empty words which fray and fall flat.
Sucked dry of their wonder and grace
Which seep away, searching for a soul to entrance,
A heart to enrapture, a mind to enliven
But only finding an emptiness
To evaporate into.
Which no one looks at,
Trumpeting with the muted voices
Of their creators,
Of whom they now bear
An irretrievable and squandered part.
We flocked together once,
Of the same feather of fateful chance.
Of like trees and like nests.
And the untaught undifferentiated
Squawking of chicks
Still faltering in flight.
But Time would fray us;
Some would soar, others flit
And still others would perch
In various cages.
But all would sing a different tune –
Each as purposefully, as gratuitously
As the other.
A cacophony which only eases
When it sings of the past;
For now the only “same feather” which
Remains, is the feather
I haven’t written in a while. Both on here and elsewhere. I guess that parallels the recent state of my life; I haven’t really felt strongly about anything in a while now. In a way it feels strange, that there is, for so long, nothing for my mind to translate into words. Like a pen running low on ink that can only leave faded scrawls. Yet at the same time I guess it is a good reprieve, to open the box of my mind and my heart and find a placid and comforting blankness – though perhaps blankness isn’t the right word, for surely blankness itself must take up space to invoke such palpable calm?
Another one for good measure:
“Or consider again how one narrative may be embedded in another. In both plays and novels there are well-known examples: the play within the play in Hamlet , Wandering Willie’s Tale in Redgauntlet, Aeneas’ narrative to Dido in book 2 of the Aeneid, and so on. But there are equally well-known examples in real life. Consider again the way in which the career of Becket as archbishop and chancellor is embedded within the reign of Henry II, or the way in which the tragic life of Mary Stuart is embedded in that of Elizabeth I, or the history of the Confederacy within the history of the United States. Someone may discover (or not discover) that he or she is a character in a number of narratives at the same time, some of them embedded in others. Or again, what seemed to be an intelligible narrative in which on was playing a part may be transformed wholly or partly into a story of unintelligible episodes. This last is what happened to Kafka’s character K. in both The Trial and The Castle. (It is no accident that Kafka could not end his novels, for the notion of an ending like that of a beginning has its sense only in terms of intelligible narrative.)
I spoke earlier of the agent as not only an actor, but an author. Now I must emphasize that what the agent is able to do and say intelligibly as an actor is deeply affected by the fact that we are never more (and sometimes less) than the co-authors of our own narratives. Only in fantasy do we live what story we please. In life, as both Aristotle and Engels noted, we are always under certain constraints. We enter upon a stage which we did not design and we find ourselves part of an action that was not of our making. Each of us being a main character in his own drama plays subordinate parts in the dramas of others, and each drama constrains the others. In my drama, perhaps, I am Hamlet or Iago or at least the swineherd who may yet become a prince, but to you I am only a Gentleman or at best Second Murderer, while you are my Polonius or my Gravedigger, but your own hero. Each of our dramas exerts constraints on each other’s, making the whole different from the parts, but still dramatic.”
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue.
“There is first of all the excellence of the products, both the excellence in performance by the painters and that of the portrait itself. This excellence – the very verb ‘excel’ suggests it – has to be understood historically. The sequences of development find their point and purpose in a progress towards and beyond a variety of types and modes of excellence. There are of course sequences of decline as well as of progress, and progress is rarely understood to be straightforwardly linear. But it is in participation in the attempts to sustain progress and to respond creatively to problems that the second kind of good internal to the practices of portrait painting is to be found. For what the artist discovers within the pursuit of excellence in portrait painting – and what is true of portrait painting is true of the practice of the fine arts in general – is the good of a certain kind of life. That life may not constitute the whole of life for someone who is a painter by a very long way or it may at least for a period, Gauguin-like, absorb him or her at the expense of almost everything else. But it is the painter’s living out of a greater or lesser part of his or her life as a painter that is the second kind of good internal to painting. And judgement upon these goods requires at the very least the kind of competence that is only to be acquired either as a painter or as someone willing to learn systematically what the portrait painter has to teach.”
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue.
Have I mentioned how amazing this book is?