This week is something different.
No, I’m not going to quote lengthy passages of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite at you. Although I do realise that’s a disappointment.
This week, my compatriots in the blogalectic are attempting to find a degree of common ground by discussing, as Jenna St Hilaire explains, ‘the beginning places that set us together as likeminded artists even while starting us in certain different philosophical directions.’
Jenna goes on to discuss her starting point as being a sort of self-imposed stopping point. Not knowing when to stop striving, she says, she looks instead for a centre between giving up and self-destruction, which is to say, for grace: a contentment (if I can put it this way) that the ability to be oneself is somehow attains the connection to the other the artists strives for. An recognition that the I is eternally wrapped in Thou.
Masha summarises this initial difference between her and Jenna quite well, whilst embedding it with an element of challenge:
Jenna begins with an explanation of striving, in which she says that she doesn’t "know what it is not to strive" and that explains a good deal to me. She describes herself as a perfectionist, I am anything but. The resignation I fight against is primarily my own. I pursue beauty, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically, but I also live in a world of tomorrows, and I have to remind myself daily that life is meant to be lived at each moment. My natural tendency is toward anticipation, not action, and if I’m not careful I’m sure to "pass life, and [myself] by" (Rilke).
Perhaps this is part of the reason we have so many disagreements, we see ourselves and respond to our own tendencies: she is ever-needing to remind herself to accept and I am ever-needed to encourage myself to attempt. Where does Mr. Pond fall on this spectrum, I wonder.
Well may she wonder, and most days so do I. Will it sufficiently madden my compatriots (and you dear readers) if I say I fall somewhere between? That I’m accepting attempts and attempting to accept? That I’m a perfectionist who lives in a world of tomorrows?
Come now, this must be cheating! Let me look at the spectrum and consider where I stand—
But is the spectrum vertical or horizontal? It doesn’t matter, really—however I try to look at it I find myself leaping onto it and using it as a seesaw. One-two-three get off my father’s apple tree, sort of thing. That, of course, is the proper use of spectrums, other than muddying them up to create single, definite, and now-useable colours.
I find myself stuck on the playground, the weight of poetics and philosophy teeter-totters and finger paints, earthworms and merry-go-rounds. Doubtless there are soon to be other children playing kick-a-ball nearby, or at jacks, or at being werewolves. And I find myself wondering, with an intensity that decades have done nothing to alleviate, why it is that boys don’t play jacks and girls don’t play werewolves. And why my classmates were appalled when I tried to paint the rainbow black and brown.
Now I’m twenty years away on the day we decided that we wouldn’t stop the merry-go-round, just keep spinning to see how fast it would go, and then got in an argument about which way it should go, resulting in us all climbing on board and pushing in opposite directions until it wound up spinning unstoppably the wrong way. And I find myself seized with the overwhelming conviction that this glorious, terrifying, misguided moment is somehow the answer to everything.