"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

22 February 2006

Art and Discovery

Writing keeps me sane. When I do not write for an extended period (which might mean hours, not days or weeks), I begin to fall into a frustrated, restless irritability which is far more difficult to control than ordinary moodiness. When I begin writing again, a kind of peace spreads in some corner of my soul which allows me to see my world more clearly – including my own failings that need remedy. I have known this for many years, but the following assertion from On Moral Fiction (John Gardner) gave me new insight about it yesterday:

“Art is the means by which an artist comes to see; it is his peculiar, highly sophisticated and extremely demanding technique of discovery.”

Yes. Writing is indeed my way of understanding; and if I am not actively seeking to understand, to discover truth, self, God, neighbor, how can I be sane? This great task is natural to the human mind and soul, and we must be about it in whatever way He has equipped us for it.

Of course, I learn much by reading and listening and studying, without which I could not have the knowledge necessary for discovery. But these only provide the materials. I must process those materials to discover their meaning, the vision they offer me. And if I am not actively doing this, the materials themselves begin to overwhelm me with confusion and their own strident need to be heard and handled, creating that frustrated restlessness that cannot be quieted or appeased except by seeking sight through writing.

4 comments:

Megan said...

My comment is undeniably boring: I agree with you. And I love the quote; it's another one for my quote collection.

alaiyo said...

Hey, I don't mind "boring" comments that say "I agree"! :) At least it reminds me someone is reading . . . By the way, I copied your newest about choosing what music to listen to for my students, as they are working on an essay that has to do with how our values should drive our entertainment choices. It will be good for them to see someone not far removed from where they are now writing about it.

Blessings,

Beth

amelia ruth said...

I totally know where you're coming from. Some days I just feel restless and irritable, and then I realize it's because I haven't written in so long. Sometimes a good conversation will do the same thing, but often there are things that I have to write down in order to figure out.

Take care; I read your blog any time I have the chance.

alaiyo said...

Good to hear from you, Amy! How are wedding plans coming? :)

Conversation can help sometimes, indeed. But it rarely can substitute for that need to *see* what one is thinking . . .

Email me your snail mail address, okay?

Love and blessings,

Beth

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