Gateways Into The World
A book is just ink, paper, and dried glue until someone comes along, picks it up, opens it, and starts to read. Then an amazing thing happens which even today we are not able to explain or fully understand. For as the eye moves along to take in what it sees, what are nothing more than marks on a page are transformed wondrously into words. Each word starts to stir like a little Pinocchio that can act on its own to speak, shout, soothe, sing, sting or startle. Now the book, a lifeless lump before, can say something. When it does, the door to a whole new realm is opened, and in that moment we enter into the world of what things mean.
This making sense we do is literally the stuff of our lifetime. It is the inherent activity that creates the total realm in which we live, and it in turn opens us to the whole world and everything life holds. Thus each primary portal is therefore a gateway into some ancient human endeavor. Taken all together, these classic forms constitute the modes of human becoming.
For the gateway of Art . . . go here http://wp.me/p2bFoC-3A
. . . bespeaking and the Artistic experience of life
For the gateway of Religion . . . go here http://wp.me/p2bFoC-3L
. . . believing and the Religious experience of life
For the gateway of Philosophy . . . go here http://wp.me/p2bFoC-5t
. . . beholding and the Philosophical experience of life
For the gateway of History . . . go here http://wp.me/p2bFoC-5L
. . . behesting and the Historical experience of life
For the gateway of Politics & Economics . . . go here http://wp.me/p2bFoC-5Z
. . . besteading and the Political & Economic experience of life
For the gateway of Science . . . go here http://wp.me/p2bFoC-6a
. . . belonging and the Scientific experience of life
For the gateway of Psychology . . . (currently being totally refashioned)
. . . behaving and the Psychological experience of life
[The Psychology segment is being completely rebuilt -- to reflect its overall relation to the Science segment, in which it is inevitably and inextricably rooted (given its inception in the 19th Century, when the still unfinished debate first arose on precisely where to place "the human sciences") -- planting both segments here in the same organic whole, the human realm: Experiencing... (see the group bearing the same name) -- in which Stanley Keleman's pioneering work will be introduced and fully explored once the group, so long in preparation, has finally opened (most likely in late January). Until then, these LibraryThing pages are continually being smoothed out as all aspects of my professional life are put into a single, harmonious working relationship.]
SATURDAY, February 8, 2014 --G.R.
GROUP PURPOSE: This group first began as an open discussion group to investigate the seven gateways designated here. That undertaking has since been shifted mostly to my primary blog, www.sensingtheway.com at WordPress, now the 'Grand Central Station' of all my work-related sites online. Its accompanying lead-in blog, found at www.gatewaysintotheworld.com, present the original segments selected from the seven spheres of my non-fiction writings. Two additional blogs titled "People who can take you . . .Out Where The Big Waves Are" (www.prairywriter.com), with the caboose of this train of websites, "Second Thoughts", are also found at WordPress. Sites there operate in a media-enhanced format conducive to richer and broader book reviews. All the blogs mentioned here are experience-based ventures designed to deepen and accentuate the reader's direct involvement in the material being presented.
CURRENT GROUP STATUS: On the whole, Discussion venues at LibraryThing are less disposed to a sustained treatment of a topic than those found elsewhere. If sufficient interest and constructive interaction fail to materialize, the venture here will be discontinued and full energy devoted to the activities already operating at the Authors Guild, WordPress, GoodReads, and Yahoo.
The gateway of Art
Theater is the art form I am personally acquainted with most. What all art does, of course, is: render something into form. As Shakespeare expressed it, "And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet's pen turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name." (A Midsummer Night's Dream, v.i) The form may be sculpture, painting, photography, music, dance, mime, or most anything, resulting in an object that becomes a word, sign, or deed that "says," means, or does something. Though it is impossible to completely capture in description what works of art do, they connect with the viewer nonetheless. "It is more difficult to describe one actor than to write a whole philosophy or art, and more difficult to describe one of his performances than to describe the actor." (--Soren Kierkegaard). Theater is said to be the most ephemeral of all the arts, for when a performance is over, it's gone forever (the next night's performance will never be exactly the same). Yet in spite of its fleeting nature, theater embraces most all other art forms known to man. In its moments of occurrence, actor, play, and audience merge into a unitary event that creates a meaning all its own. The discussions of this gateway will make use of The Collected Works of Harold Clurman : Six decades of Commentary on Theater, Dance, Music, Film, Arts and Letters. (a massive 1102 page work.)
Clurman was an internationally renowned art critic, theater director, man of letters, and one of the co-founders in the 1930s of The Group Theater, which is the single most significant and sustained Camelot-like achievement found in the entire history of American theater. As critic Robert Brustein knew first hand, "There was a powerful idealism always at work in this legendary organization, and it was Clurman who articulated its standards of artistic aspiration." Extensive references have been gathered from the lives and works of James Cagney, Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward, Patti Lupone, and Moss Hart (to name but a few), along with mounds of background material on major playwrights, composers, lyricists, stage and film directors, and even some impressarios as well. And the other book to be drawn upon here is The Art Spirit -- the now famous compilation of notes, fragments, letters, and talks by the great American artist Robert Henri, which has become a world classic.
Printed in the 1920s, the book's substance and style make it seem as if you were sitting there among a group of students in Henri's studio; you can imagine and even almost hear him speaking as he passes among his students, looking over their work, expressing his thoughts in astonishingly keen observations, making it resoundingly clear that with genuine artists, art of any kind -- for all its craft, technique, and execution -- can never be anything less than a way of life.
"Getting On With It"
What do we have but life?
What is it for but to live?
When shall we live it more than now?
Where shall we live it more than here?
How can we live it unless we act?
Who is able to act more than you?
What do you have but life?
What is it for but to live?
The gateway of Religion
Of the seven modes, religion is the one least likely to be well understood today. That is because the word 'religion' changed in the last century, both in the "Old World" culture of Europe and the "New World" cultures of the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Not too long ago, 'religion' stood for a singular but uniting reality, something which was at once personal and also universal; but that got terribly tangled up in the mid-twentieth century (as did also its attached core concepts: 'soul', 'spirit', 'self', 'mind', and 'God'). When the culture was torn apart in the late 1960s, the country was torn apart too (in the only truly complete turning point our nation has yet undergone -- the effects of which are still playing out), and we ended up with a profusion of sun-dried "religions" of every kind, while religion was left to drift in the rising tide of a sanitized sea of spirituality. Tracing these twists and tangles isn't easy, but it can be done by carefully selecting pertinent books from the oeuvre of Paul Tillich, himself a monumental figure and player in the predominant discussions and cultural arenas involved (philosophy, theology, depth-psychology, art & architecture, social democracy, history of ideas, and world religions). And among all of these, it was religion -- and the "ultimate concern" he saw it as made of -- that Tillich was most totally grasped by, strove to fully understand, and spent his entire lifetime searching out.
Born in Germany in 1886, teaching at Marburg, Dresden, Leipzig, and Frankfurt, until fleeing Hitler's Germany after having been put on the list as an enemy of the state in 1933, he entered this country as a visiting professor (becoming a citizen in 1940) and on the faculties of Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, Harvard, and the University of Chicago (his involvement reaching even as far as the God-is-dead debate in a lecture a few nights before the severe heart attack from which he died). Quotes from two other religious thinkers on the subject, in a spirit akin to his own and with which he would have surely agreed: "Even an orthodox theologian can be spiritually dead, while perhaps a heretic crawls on forbidden bypaths to the sources of life." (Helmut Thielicke) And another from a friend he'd known since 1924 in Germany, and seen in scattered places at varied times, in New York, Boston, Israel, and elsewhere: "The realer religion is, so much the more it means its own overcoming. It wills to cease to be the special domain 'Religion', and wills to become life." (Martin Buber)
To see religion these days, or even start to find it, you must look into something as real as the life of an actual person, someone such as . . .
But when you discover what he thought and how he lived, I doubt you will ever forget him.
His name is Nikos Kazantzakis. For starters, read his Saint Francis, and then go further, to take in the ecstatic exuberance found in Zorba The Greek, or try your best to translate into action the spiritual exercises found in The Saviors of God, or, perhaps better than all three put together, follow as best you can the compelling climb, the life-long ascent set forth in Report To Greco, which recounts in mythic proportions the pilgrimage that Kazantzakis lived from his life's earliest moments up to and through his very last breath. Content such as that found in these pages, often leaves people either speechless or clueless. And that is as it should be. For its essence is of a special kind, one that cannot finally only be talked about; instead, it is something that must also be done.(The experience-based group at Library Thing devoted to his works is "The Arresting Life and Writings Of Nikos Kazantzakis.")
"Lost and Found"
When you are too quick
to equate the Holy
with your own more,
then when you at last
you'll lose your religion.
The gateway of Philosophy
"Philosophy," my friend remarked, "is a cause for profound apathy to break out upon the populace." (At the time he was head of the philosophy department at a major university.) We went on to speak of the late Walter Kaufmann of Princeton University, one of the few able to make philosophy interesting and worthwhile. Justly renowned for his writings on Existentialism and his specialty in Nietzsche's work, Kaufmann wrote his trilogy Discovering the Mind attempting to get philosophy back on track by looking at the past two centuries of intellectual history in the West to determine where things went awry.
His working definition of "mind" in the three volume series is worth quoting in full: "And when I speak of the mind I am not contrasting it with heart or soul, as do those who associate the mind with the intellect and the heart or soul with emotion. I use "mind" as an inclusive term for feeling and intelligence, reason and emotion, perception and will, thought and the unconscious." Because Kaufmann's style is strident and polemical (especially so in books like his provocative but superb Critique of Religion and Philosophy), it unfortunately puts off many and prevents them from engaging the considerable substance of this trenchant thinker, as well as acknowledging the rare richness of a mind nimble enough to combine the philosophical and artistic with the scientific and religious.
Also, not to be lost (as it almost always is!), is the taking into account of the significant and contrasting influence Karl Jaspers had on the development of philosophy throughout this very volatile period -- unexpectedly transitioning to it from a natural scientist's mentality with the rigorous medical training of a physician already specialized in psychiatry (try the 859 pages of his General Psychopathology!). His close personal relationships included such luminaries as Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Max Weber, Ernst Mayr (his wife's younger brother), and the list becomes a long one indeed. The principal philosophical reference work here is Wilhelm Windelband's incomparable I. A History of Philosophy (Greek, Roman, and Medieval), and II. A History of Philosophy (Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Modern). Another recent addition relevant here is from a writer who can hold her own when treating philosophical matters, Absence of Mind by Marilynne Robinson.
The gateway of History
If you think of history as an isolated subject, it is likely to remain foreign to you forever. But history shouldn't be allowed to decompose into a pile of names, dates, and events. What keeps it from this is remembering what it really is: the study of human action. R. G. Collingwood, for years a distinguished Oxford professor, gave his life to doing this, and transformed history into autobiography as well. This makes it all come alive and changes how one sees history and life from then on. Actually, anyone else can do this too. (A splendid biography on the man has just been published, appropriately titled History Man, which we will add to this portal's reference works to draw upon -- for the liberation it brings and looses upon the world. To compose an autobiography isn't to write about the past, but to free oneself to live wholly in the future. Oriana Fallaci, the late fiery Italian author, wrote "A journalist is a person who writes history in the same moment that history happens. And it is the best damn way to write history." Her interviews with many world-famous figures (Interview With History are unmatchable, because in each one she managed to catch what almost everyone else misses: the person participating in the making of history. And just what is a person anyway? (Think with me a minute on this this:) It is . . . biology making history into identity. It is Being and Becoming molded into Self. Person can neither be given nor taken, it can only be lived or died. Person and freedom are found together. You are not born a person, you become one; you are not born free, you must win freedom. Do not expect this to be easy or to be met with applause. Those who applaud it do not clap so much for you as for what they would like to be able to do themselves. No, if you seek to become a person, then you must not only expect resistance, you must learn to thrive on it. Is it really this hard? Yes. Then is it worth the trouble? You must consider the alternative and answer that for yourself. But why is it like this? Because most people decide to finish with life before life finishes with them. They start to drift, and gradually begin to sink from the weight of their own unspent vitality, until they come to settle in its residue. And if you decide not to do this; if you choose to take a stand that shows you will not join in the hoards and herds of the half-alive, then you have made it clear that you will not go with them, that you will stand all by yourself if necessary, and that will threaten them -- and you will have exposed them too, and that will anger them, and they will see you as the enemy . . . and that is right. For if your way prevails, theirs will die. And if their way prevails, yous will die. That is how it is and how it always has been. That is what it takes to make a person. And if you do this -- or even if you don't -- you are making history.
"The Me I've Not Yet Been"
What used to be
is no longer,
the way I saw
I'll never see again.
Yet something there
grows ever stronger,
helping to make real
the me I've not yet been.
The gateway of Politics & Economics
Politics is grandly called "the art of the possible," but up against the mammoth problems overwhelming the world today, it seems to accomplish little or nothing. A needed spur to keep us moving is Robert Henri's "We are not here to do what has already been done." But where does one start? As John Gardner wrote, "The historic innovation looks exciting in the history books, but if one could question those who lived at the time, the typical response would be neither 'I opposed it' nor 'I welcomed it,' but 'I didn't know it was happening." Sooner or later life comes down to, "So what are you going to do?" Today, more and more people are answering this question with a resounding "Nothing!" And as people come to know less and less about what's happening around them today, what we end up seeing more and more of is nothing getting done. (c.f., the protracted stalemate in U.S. Congress.) The touchstone of people gifted at getting things done, like a Thomas Jefferson, for example, is that they are ever on the lookout for two fundamental things: the ends and the means. The first is the stuff or politics and the second is that of economics. Either without the other leaves a whole lot to be desired. Politics degenerates into a ceaseless plotting of inter-affecting aims and influences, while economics dwindles down to a continuous calculating of ever-shifting trends and commodities. As the economist, Kenneth Boulding -- (author of the three thought-provoking works: The Meaning Of The Twentieth Century, and Conflict and Defense: A General Theory, and the groundbreaking The Image: Knowledge in Life and Society) -- ably observed, "All information is about the past, all decisions are about the future, and we live in that hiatus in between." In life, getting these two to function harmoniously hinges on being "in control," which has nothing at all to do with domination, and everything to do with managing to find the means. Would it were easy! What it entails, of course, is first discovering and then applying all the pertinent principles involved. That is what keeps everything running and going. In essence, this is the act of governing; indeed, it is government in operation, whether it be of the nation or of the self. To govern oneself is to be free. And that is why government and freedom remain so inextricably linked, because if either the government or the economy fails, the other is instantly in jeopardy -- and maintaining the viable, crucial union of the two all hinges on continuing to find the means. (NOTE: A profound probe into the way the two dominant strands of Western civilization -- the Hebraic and Hellenic -- continue to work their influences on even the spheres of practical action is William Barrett's classic Irrational Man, eventuating in the outcome of his slightly later The Death of the Soul, which is the same collapse, death, and loss being dealt with in this description.)
"On Leaving & Arriving"
Only those who leave home
ever really find it.
The gateway of Science
When changes large or small are afoot, the sciences are usually the first to pick up on these. That is because science impinges on the internals and externals of most everything. Bounding and rangy as the sciences inevitably are, though, makes it nearly impossible to find places where major strands come together, and to hold these tight long enough to see what they are up to. The Salk Institute did this in its heyday back in the 1970s and coming forward. Imagine sharing research results and having ongoing discussions about things filling the pages of works like Jonas Salk's The Survival Of The Wisest, Man Unfolding, and Anatomy of Reality; or Jacob Bronowski's epic treatment of the history of science in his classic The Ascent Of Man, or his brilliant three-pronged probes into the arts, literature, and science in books such as The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination, The Common Sense of Science, or A Sense Of The Future (on the limits of symbolic logic and empirical methodology, the nature of language and the human mind, and the biological ground of human and cultural evolution), along with Francis Crick's Life Itself:Its Origin And Nature (one of the discoverers of the molecular structure of DNA), along with Antonio Damasio's excellent behavioral and neurobiological investigations into the conscious brain: Descartes' Error, The Feeling of What Happens, Looking for Spinoza, and finally jumping right up to today in the promising approach taken by Robert Lanza, MD, whose work with astronomer Bob Berman sets forth 'A New Theory of the Universe' in their recently published book Biocentrism. These are strands in part from the past work of this place that are leading further to more distant places still. Two principal works of Harvard's evolutionary biologist, the late Ernest Mayr, to add to any of our discussions here are his What Makes Biology Unique?, and his lucid and extremely clarifying What Evolution Is.
The gateway of Psychology
In 1874 a scholarly book appeared in Germany without any buzz or fanfare that quickly and quietly became a world classic. Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, was written by Franz Brentano (from a family of well-known writers and literary artists), a philosopher, psychologist, and priest of whom most today have never heard, and few have any real working knowledge of -- though his place is assured as a pivotal figure in the history of psychology in that: a) his were the only non-medical lectures a then obscure student named Sigmund Freud attended regularly; b) he had an overwhelming influence on Husserl and used the term 'phenomenology' before him; c) his work was so surprisingly suggestive that it provided a formative impetus to such varied movements as the Language Analysis (Sprachkritik) of the Vienna Circle, Heidegger and Existentialism, and subsequent developments in the psychology of Self and Gestalt psychology, thus having an impact on the psychotherapeutic methodology of the latter as well. In these early days when psychology was being founded, Brentano laid a firm foundation for it, anticipating the course it would largely take for the next one hundred years. He was proven right. Over that broad span psychology diverged into the three distinct roads of Psychoanalysis, Behaviorism, and the Third Force movement, leaving the divided world delineated and tellingly explained in The broken Image : Man, Science, and Society by Floyd W. Matson. Which brings us full circle to where things stood back in 1974, right in the "thick-point" (a Gestalt term) of the unprecedented cultural and metabiological changes taking place at that time (c.f., Jonas Salk's "point-of-inflection" in his The Survival of the Wisest) . . . when a whole new door opened and a fresh way of viewing the life, behavior, and organismic experiencing of the full human being entered in. It was totally grounded in an evolutionary understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the entire organism, rooting general character and physical type in an ongoing organizing process at work in both the individual and the species. By staking his claim in this new understanding, Stanley Keleman had moved way beyond where the old boundary lines were drawn for years, and then, in one full seven-league stride, significantly expanded the practical working sphere of psychology and the related behavioral sciences. Inerviewing him in the 1970s for an article featuring his work in Psychology Today, Sam Keen, a prolific author and popular lecturer in his own right, said of Keleman, "If we had Earthfathers, he might be one." The many groundbreaking investigations his work ushered in -- one very special one leading to an ambitious fourteen-year collaboration project with his professional colleague and personal friend Joseph Campbell -- grew to become recognized and respected not only in the U.S. but the world over as the Formative Psychology of Stanley Keleman and his Center for Energetic Studies in Berkeley, California.
(NOTE: Keleman's groundbreaking work will be at the core of everything undertaken and explored in the group The human realm: Experiencing . . .)
"Then and Now"
With all you've
been or not been,
at any single moment
you are more
what you are becoming.
* * * *
On The Place Of Literature In Human Life
What do Lewis & Clarke and Mark Twain have in common?
(Ideally, the FIRST Image -- "Missouri River" painting to be inserted here . . .)
If you answered, "They had a river," you'd be right. (Of all three men it could be said their destiny was a river!) Though some exacting soul might protest, saying that the first pair's Missouri and the latter's Mississippi were not really the same river! Strictly speaking, that would be right too. But, if you dive into this deeper still, enlarging the scope to GPS heights where it can instantly be observed how the two rivers are indeed connected, then what Lewis & Clark and Twain did have in common reappears. Once you view things from this higher and wider scale, your perception changes altogether, as you plainly see connections invisible to you before. Moreover, as with the three men and their two rivers having one thing in common, so too with the overwhelmingly far-reaching sources and outcomes found in human life. But there is one thing that runs through it all, a river, if you will. And the name of that river is Literature.
As for the outcome or grand outpouring end of the river -- where the Mississippi empties into the Gulf -- everything the river carries is there for all the world to see; while at the other end of the river, those Missouri headwaters Lewis & Clark spent over a year looking for, brought them to three different forks -- the closer they came to the source, the harder it was to see. Yet they kept on looking because finding it mattered. In the case of literature, you could say this source is of unparalleled power and significance, because it's where all language is born, there in the spontaneous act of individual expression.
And here we reach a critical juncture in our discussion, for this is the point at which everything either connects or falls apart. Traditionally, this is described in several ways: it's where the Inner world and Outer world connect, or where Subject meets Object; where the I meets the It, or where One meets Many. There's no one single way of describing it; and however one comes to describe it will not only determine how that person sees the world but how he or she comes to live in it as well. Here is where word becomes deed, where wonder translates mystery into what is named and known. But the truth also remains: All this is much more than merely a matter of metaphor.
(SECOND Image -- Ideally, the painting "Mississippi River around 1850" to be inserted here)
Let me explain what I mean by returning to our two strands. Here's how Twain fashioned his highly original expression in words on the Mississippi:
"Now when I had mastered the language of this water, and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry, had gone out of the majestic river! I still kept in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steamboating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating, black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as an opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the somber shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene. far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it every passing moment with new marvels of coloring." (From Twain's Life on the Mississippi, written in 1883.)
And picking up again on the Lewis and Clark expedition, where the river's strand split into three different forks, things there quickly turned into drama of the highest sort.
(For the THIRD Image -- The cover of The Journals of Lewis And Clark to be inserted here)
(HISTORICAL NOTE: Sacagawea had been captured from her Shoshoni tribe by the Minnetarees when barely in her teens, forced to live among them as a prisoner until sold by them to be the wife of the French trapper Toussaint Charbonneau, living with him among the Mandan Indians in the northern Dakota area, until the two joined Lewis and Clark, where she also gave birth to a child. Though she lived well into her years, she was only sixteen when undertaking the expedition and all that it led to.)
"Sacagawea, who was walking with her husband a hundred yards ahead of Clark, began "to dance and show every mark of the most extravagant joy, turning round him and pointing to several Indians, whom [Clark] now saw advancing on horseback, sucking her fingers at the same time to indicate that they were of her native tribe. As they advanced, Captain Clark discovered among them Drewyer dressed like an Indian, from whom he learnt the situation of the party." On reaching the camp, Captain Clark "was received by Captain Lewis and the chief, who after the first embraces and salutations were over, conducted him to a sort of circular tent or shade of willows. Here he was seated on a white robe; and the chief immediately tied in his hair six small shells resembling pearls . . . The moccasins of the whole party were then taken off, and after much ceremony the smoking began. After this the conference was to be opened, and Sacagawea was sent for; she came into the tent, sat down, and was beginning to interpret, when in the person of Cameahwait [the Chief] she recognized her brother. She instantly jumped up, and ran and embraced him, throwing over him her blanket and weeping profusely." (From the rewording of Lewis & Clark's Journals found in the earliest and much bowdlerized Biddle edition, whereas the true flavor and text of the Expedition's adventure appears in the John Bakeless version depicted just above.)
(the FOURTH Image -- Cover of Ezra Pound's and Marcella Spann's Confucius To Cummings to be inserted here)
An important connection exists here that is to be kept in mind: the relationships between both sets of material (the Lewis & Clark and the Twain), and those between source and outcome, are the same. Which is to say, the way source and outcome are related in the rivers, is the way source and outcome are related in literature too. Or to express it even more concisely: the rivers reflect the way literature relates to reality. If you understand how Lewis & Clark and Twain are related to the sources and outcomes of their rivers, you've already grasped how source and outcome are related in Literature as well.
To know a river, you must grasp its source and outcome, each of which is different and merits a scrutiny all its own. Taking in the might and mass of the Mississippi as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico is one thing, but tracking down the trickles and traces that come from its sources is quite another. Which is why two groups are needed here. Gateways Into The World structurally encompasses the cultural breadth necessary to take in Literature's abundant outcomes, and The human realm: Experiencing . . . is specially designed to plumb the personal depths found there at its inevitably individual sources. Lewis & Clark are a model for investigating "real world" events like those of the former, while Twain remains a masterful marvel at leading us directly to the latter. What a splendid bounty to find Literature has given us both and placed each at our disposal.
Ezra Pound and Marcella Spann, whose work is pictured above, were terrific teacher-writers. When faced with the challenge of making visible the length and liveliness of poetic literary tradition, they positioned their pieces end-to-end chronologically. The length alone was telling, making the impact of their selections all the more striking. What they did with time, Lewis & Clark did with distance, narrating the seemingly countless miles from start to finish that they had traveled every inch of, from the Missouri's mouth on the Mississippi, clear on up to the Big Waters of the coastal Pacific, and from there, all the way back down again, near where Mark Twain would start out almost half-a-century later. And before their two-year-and-four-month expedition. who would ever have guessed that the Big Muddy, as the Missouri is still often called, would show itself to be longer than the clearly much bigger Ol' Man River?
The rare beauty of Pound and Spann's anthology is that they trust their material so completely, pushing no points and keeping their learned fingerprints off its pages. And, if you read it, Do not skip the appendixes at the back under "Section for Instructors" -- which have much to offer in as refreshing a vein as this: "Don't fall for the dodge that there are 5,000 things you need to know; such ideas are spread abroad by those who don't know anything well but may have invested a lot of time getting an "education." One or two books will put you way ahead of almost everyone, if they are important books and you know them." (Plainly, one of these books would be theirs.)
* * * *
As a fitting close to this bookish venture, we finish with words of Johann Scheffler, who, writing under the name of Angelus Silesius some three hundred years ago, wrote in German:
Freund, es ist genug.
Im Fall du mehr willst lesen,
So geh und werde selbst die
Schrift und selbst das Wesen.
Which, translated freely with a sense of its rhyme, could go:
Friend, it is enough.
In case you still want to read some,
go on to let yourself become
both the writing and the stuff.
Please feel free to post any questions in the group's discussion box or here: http://www.librarything.com/profile/Gene...
(This group is now been connected to my Facebook timeline, where the "Library Thing Unleashed" application has been launched as well SUNDAY, February 9, 2014 -G.R.)
Group website: http://www.gatewaysintotheworld.com
Total members: 3 members
Members: carla.ferris.7, erich32, GeneRuyle
|Topics|| ||messages||Last message|| |
|The portal of the arts . . .|| ||18||GeneRuyle, February 2014|
|This group's siscussion of topics|| ||1||GeneRuyle, January 2013|
|Plainswriter's portal ... to Harold Clurman's six decades of commentary on Theatre, Dance, Music, Fi|| ||163||GeneRuyle, October 2012|
|On the use of mythology as a profound way of understanding life|| ||1||GeneRuyle, January 2012|
|Is literary criticism a help or hindrance to good literature?|| ||1||GeneRuyle, January 2012|
|Is the "Third Force movement" now a spent force or still around?|| ||1||GeneRuyle, January 2012|
|Is classic Behaviorism still viable and known to people today?|| ||1||GeneRuyle, January 2012|
|Categorizing Kierkegaard?|| ||1||GeneRuyle, January 2012|
|Open discussion of the Seven gateways|| ||1||GeneRuyle, January 2012||
Group id: aportaltoexperiencin
Created: Aug 31, 2011
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