"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

19 May 2006

Longing for Wisdom

I have just read a book on writing, somewhat too New-Agey, Zennish for my taste, but with nuggets of interest that do intrigue and will no doubt inform the writing over time. However, one concept that occurs throughout it disturbs me: that it is necessary for the artist to be a flouter of convention and breaker of rules to be true to art and to speak truth at all.

Now, I fully concur that convention can be wrongly constraining and rules can be unjust. But the sense here is the Romantic one: all conventions and rules, by definition, are always wrongful and probably evil constraints upon us; in fact, the way we prove ourselves to be human and worthy of the name is by flouting -- or as the Romantics and neo-Romantics would say, transcending -- conventions and rules.

This way lies madness.

Reality and Truth are not found within us. They exist outside the self. (Perhaps we discern them, at times, as we honestly explore the self, an idea I've not thought through.) I do not create Reality; I discover it, I perceive it (even if only through a glass darkly), but I do not create it. And Reality and Truth have principles -- conventions and rules, if you will, though I realize these are not always synonymous -- which we flout at our peril and cannot transcend. Some actions are simply wrong; some are simply right. Not "for me" -- for all of us.

I cannot write "anything I want." I cannot be "anything I want." I cannot do "anything I want."

Unless . . . Unless I am given over to Reality, to Truth, and allow Him to give me the desires of my heart: not fulfill my fleshly desires but implant the desires themselves so that I desire what He desires.

Just as in writing, one must understand the principles and how the conventions and rules embody the principles, in order to know when and how to flout them -- and when it is not possible -- for the sake of the writing, so it is in life.

To flout fallen human conventions and rules? Yes. But not all conventions and rules are fallen, just because human beings articulate them. So the need is to understand His principles in order to discern what may be flouted, what must be flouted -- and what must be honored.

Oh, for wisdom!


Cassie Marie Bundy said...

I wanted to tell you that I found THE BEST book last week. It was a huge book of Ray Bradbury's short stories! I was so excited! And I had to tell you about it. I hope you are having a great summer.

alaiyo said...

Hooray, Cassie! Let me know which ones you like best. Does it have "The Veldt"? That's one of my favorites of his short stories.

Having a great summer so far; I hope yours is the same.

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