My mother was the first person to teach me to always pursue The Argument:
I am not myself very much concerned with questions of influence, or with the publicists who have impressed their names upon the public by catching the morning tide and rowing very fast in the direction in which the current was flowing, but rather that there should always be a few writers preoccupied in penetrating to the core of the matter, in trying to arrive at the truth and to set forth, without too much hope, without ambition to alter the immediate course of affairs and without being downcast or defeated when nothing appears to ensue. -T.S. Eliot
I’ve been reading The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983 for some time. As expected, lovely.
What is there to “explain”? The surprising combination in me of a deep and ever-growing revulsion at the endless discussions and debates about religion, at superficial affirmations, pious emotionalism and certainly against pseudo-churchly interests, petty and trifling, and at the same time an ever growing sense of reality. Just yesterday, I felt this reality while walking to church for the Liturgy, in the early morning, through the emptiness of winter trees; and then this precious hour in the empty church, before the Liturgy. Always the same feelings of time filled with eternity, with full and sacred joy. I have the feeling that church is needed so that this experience of reality would exist. Where the church ceases to be a symbol, a sacrament, it becomes a horrible caricature of itself (1).
“What can be enunciated, what presumes that language is more or less consonant with veritable insights and demonstrations, may in fact reveal the decay of primordial, epiphanic recognitions” Steiner, The Poetry of Thought: From Hellenism to Celan.
George Steiner in “The Poetry of Thought: From Hellenism to Celan” wonderfully articulates as follows: in music there is a “defiance of translation or paraphase” (9). Indeed.
Lucretius and Seneca are ‘models of philosphical-literary investigation, in which literary language and complex dialogical structures engage the interlocutor’s (and the reader’s) entire soul in a way that an abstract and impersonal prose treatise probably could not…Form is a crucial element in the work’s philosophical content. Sometimes, indeed (as with the Medea), the content of the form proves so powerful that it calls into question the allegedly simpler teaching contained within it.” – Martha Nussbaum: The Therapy of Desire, 1994
I have recently discovered Ephrem the Syrian. He is simply the most beautiful hymn writer and liturgist I have ever read.
Blessed is he who made our body a tabernacle for his hiddenness.
Blessed is he who with our tongue interpreted his secrets.