Dec 26, 2010

Five Pics, a Poem, and Ways of Being


If you’re new to Banjo52, today’s comments will make more sense if you can at least skim the previous two to four posts.

I still hope someone can explain why the words and the idea of one's Way of Being in the World have such purchase with me--and others maybe not so much. The grasp didn't go away with Santa, if that's what you were hoping.

I think maybe "way," "being," and "world" have more heft than other axioms of this nature--the meaning of life business, the "be kind to strangers" and "do unto others" business. They're not invalid, but they've grown flat with time.

When it comes to writing and other art, here's a thought that's less flattering to those engaged in artistic pursuits: we write and paint and sculpt out of fear of death (the art objects are our children, of course, and therefore our immortality) and out of our supreme egotism and narcissism. "Hey, world, look what I saw, felt, thought, and wrought, ingeniously phrased! What a hot ticket am I!"

Maybe artistic endeavor has very little to do with the artist's understanding of or caring for the world and The Other -- the human, the tree, the salamander, human and natural history, and such grand items -- and everything to do with his love of self. Others' ways of being in the world interest him little or not at all, except for making him sound deep to those who seem to matter in the art world.



Other bloggers and I have expressed a weakness for The Great Gatsby. But I've often wondered--without the best words to express it--how much Fitzgerald wondered about the way of being in the world in the nineteen-teens and -twenties for Jews and African-Americans. Oh, yes, and women of all stripes. Of course, not many Caucasians fretted about that, but some did, and they weren't trying to be a great novelist who, presumably, was trying to shed important light on his world.

So in these pictures and Hopkins’ poem, “Pied Beauty," there might be some additional ways of being in the world. Do you respond to/like/respect/admire/identify with one more than the other? Would you care to make a statement, or several, about ways of being in the world presented and implied in these examples or your own? Will I go away after this? In adulthood, my first pet was a bulldog . . . .

Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.





6 comments:

altadenahiker said...

Here's our bone of contention, John. I don't think it's sex or race or nationality that makes us walk differently in this world.

We constantly deal with our own material, that's what we've got. But with each day, it changes. Say, there's this rucksack of you, and if you're like me, you empty the whole thing out every single day, and every single day the items change. Not in substance, but in weight. Then you bundle it up again, and walk differently, because the pressure has changed. Not lessened, just moved.

Jean Spitzer said...

AH says it well: one deals with one's own stuff; as that stuff changes, one changes.

Maybe there are artists who are motivated by showing off, but I think "obsession and storage problem" sums it up well for me.

Gorgeous poem. (Guess I'm just mushy today.)

BANJO52 said...

Thank you, thank you for responding. I thought I'd forfeited the whole group because they see this as a moronic obsession about some words.

So the rucksack contains a day's thoughts, emotions, experiences, slings, arrows, bandages--and maybe those of other people?

And the list of items is constant day to day, but they shift around in the bag, creating different weight and pressure on different parts of the back and legs and psyche? If so, I get it and like it, which I hope you'll see in the next post.

I'm not sure what's meant by emptying it each night. Shoving it aside for recreation or sleep? Or conversely, examining each item (and obsessing over some?) before putting them back in the bag for another day of hauling?

We may never agree on the importance of sex, race, nationality--other people and other external factors (which have been internalized to some extent at the very least).

Should I ignore other people's rucksacks? Picasso's? Sarah Palin's? Am I not impoverished and isn't my credibility undercut if I absolutely don't "get" them and permit myself to be satisfied with facile judgments?

But I think I'm good with most of the rucksack analogy. If I get it, I think it's word, money, I'm down. Get me some bling.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Isn't AH's comment descriptively haunting?

Maybe the rusksack is full of the day's intentions. Good intentions or task intentions. At the end of the day, you can check off what is done, what isn't. And you re-priortize and refill with new new tasks/intentions. And with the new morning, you wake up with a different gait.

Hopkins poem is awesome.

BobG said...

"Ways of being in the world" strikes me as a difficult concept. Thinking about the manner in which we move through the world causes me to view an ongoing thread of self through time, something less tenable than continuity of memory. AH brought up the following: "We constantly deal with our own material, that's what we've got. But with each day, it changes." It's a good image, but it generates questions - Why do we like what we like? Why do we respond in consistent ways? What causes some events and thoughts to strike a chord, while others don't resonate with us? How do we choose our role models, our heroes? Are they purer manifestations of our own cores? There is something beneath all the variables of our behaviors, the "rucksack of you," something that allows one individual to be friend while another is not, that strikes me as the core, the thread that determines (and, over time, is subtly modified by) the way we move through the world.

BANJO52 said...

My Gmail is messing with Banjo52. Here's a New Comment from new visitor, call her/him BG (Benevolent Gustav):

"Ways of being in the world" strikes me as a difficult concept. Thinking about the manner in which we move through the world causes me to view an ongoing thread of self through time, something less tenable than continuity of memory. AH brought up the following: "We constantly deal with our own material, that's what we've got. But with each day, it changes."

It's a good image, but it generates questions - Why do we like what we like? Why do we respond in consistent ways? What causes some events and thoughts to strike a chord, while others don't resonate with us? How do we choose our role models, our heroes? Are they purer manifestations of our own cores? There is something beneath all the variables of our behaviors, the "rucksack of you," something that allows one individual to be friend while another is not, that strikes me as the core, the thread that determines (and, over time, is subtly modified by) the way we move through the world.

Lovers' Lane