Confusing or not, I still love Williams' words. Here are a few bits and pieces for your own love:
'...more and more securely the working of that Fate which was Love possessed her. For it was fatal in its nature; rich and austere at once, giving death and life in the same moment, restoring beyond belief all the things it took away - except the individual will.'
p. 144 (This one I have scribbled inside my Bible. It sort of sums up Sybil's place in the book, that strange power that only she possesses fully.)
'She never said anything about it, nor, as a consequence, did anybody else; it being a certain rule in this world that what is not made of vivid personal importance will cease to be of social interest. The shoemaker's conversation therefore rightly returns to leather.'
'What on earth were they doing, singing about the mystery of love in church?'
'Her father was different too. He seemed no more the absurd, slightly despicable, affected and pompous and irritating elderly man whom she had known; all that was unimportant. He walked alone, a genie from some other world, demanding of her something which she had not troubled to give. If she would not find out what it was, it was no good blaming him for the failure of their proper relation. She, she only was to blame; the sin lay in her heart whenever that heart set itself against any other.'
Something happens when the Eucharist falls down our throats.
We don't know what because we are Protestants,
and the spirit of the age makes us slow.
But the man who gives mercy avoids our ignorance.
He doesn't wait for awareness to send Spirit.
If we do not know in the halls of our churches,
if we fail to approach the cup with care and with fear,
still - he will deign to show us in the shades of a forest
or between the bright folds of the ocean's surface.
Because his delight is in our briefest moments,
He will give up his own man for us.
He will give a god in exchange for our lives.
They were the words-of-wisdom types. I really love those people, though I know I'll never be one of them. I'm alright with that. Not that I don't understand them, and not that I've never felt led to share a word, picture, idea that God has given me with someone... but there's a kind of community in which it becomes the predominant practice of their gatherings of faith to interact in that way. And that just isn't gonna be me. At least, I highly doubt it. It's like driving past a familiar street knowing you'll never make it down that way, but you recognize that it's got a really nice view. Something like that.
A while afterward, we went to Crystal Cove. There's something about that place that's just good for the soul. Also good for photography. Carissa's camera's loaded with beachy shots of all of us. I think we may have even taken a few of her just before the battery died. Home to no-bakes that wouldn't set and Catch Phrase at the living room window. There are lots of reasons to like that game, but the main one has to be watching it played by siblings and close friends. When they leap up and shout, 'oh! Oh! that time!! with the ferris wheel!' and the other one goes, 'penguin feet!!!' like it's the most certain and clear-headed association in the world. The eeriest games are with Stuart and Spencer. I'm pretty sure I remember a time when Stuart just glanced up from the word, without having said a thing, and Spencer blurted it out like a genie. The very word. Straight from one man's brain to the other. Creepy. Fabulous.
Now it's bedtime. This has been more than fourteen hours of straight socialization, and I admit to being a bit exhausted. It's more than I've had in a very, very long time. But it was good.
- Kierkegaard, from Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments
Yesterday I went with my sister to view an exhibit of sound sculptures in the art district of downtown Long Beach. If you read the phrase 'sound sculpture' and cock your head in confusion and misunderstanding, you've found the right response. Neither art nor reason had much to do with the display of noise along Broadway and Linden. I was reminded of the chapter in The Phantom Tollbooth entitled Dischord and Dynne. Dischord thinks he has a rather good business going selling bottles of cacophony. From what I could tell of the 'artists' downtown yesterday, he would have done good business indeed had he set up shop on the corner there, opening his doors and calling it art.
In their defense, I'm sure many of them had reasons for their displays. But there's a difference between a display of intentional racket and Art. Now you will ask me what art is. You will expect me to offer a thorough and concise definition. Well, I can't do it. I can only offer that small assertion, as the judge said of pornography, that I may not be able to define it to the satisfaction of a court of law, but I certainly know it when I see it.
In this case, I suppose, when I hear it. Either way, I know what it is not. I felt rather ashamed of myself, strolling those streets. I cannot describe to you how pretentious I felt, casting judgment on the pretension of those artists. I couldn't help thinking of the half hour I spent with Chaeli in the lower rooms of the Vatican museum, staring at the crucifix by Cantatore, realizing that it is possible for contemporary art to be good. More than good - brilliant. Restorative. It is possible for art to change you, to make you more whole, to sanctify. If the sound sculptures of yesterday were actually works of art - which I do not take as a given - they were certainly not the sort of art that makes you more human.
The best part of the evening was when we discovered a small garden hidden away between the tall buildings and the speakers pulsing static at passersby. It was, incidentally, rather quiet in the garden - apart from the voices of people. There was basil, and tomatoes on the ground, and a quickly rotting pumpkin. Candles were scattered throughout, and there was even a small picnic table for the knowing romantics. It was hidden, green, and full of life. We were better people in there, I think. There is, perhaps, hope for the world - if not for art.