Wounded Beginning

To dress a wound is to watch the medicine trickle into where it is needed most. Like the course of water as it melts from snowy mount. I would like to think this is the model of goodness, maybe this is why it is said that grace may be found in abundance where the lapses are many. The homecoming celebration is derived from that empty space characterised by lack until reunion.
To apply dressing is to learn something of the patience of the organic body. What is done properly takes time and hours of vigil. Wounds are slow and point towards time.
To speak of health is to imply that there is a 'good' ideal that is maintained or sought. Yet there is much palliation passed off as healing. I remember discussing the film Good Will Hunting with a social worker who was really glad to see her profession so well portrayed and yet very disappointed by the ending: "That boy has years of work if he is to learn trust and love."
The slow road is never popular. And it is a fact that education does not always cater to this slow road. So many of the scholars of yesteryear did not hurry to become authorities (e.g. Auerbach) but today the rule is for students to gain higher degrees without the maturity of years and with little life experience. Also, some schoolchildren are rushed by the education system, coming into their thought only later. We call this: the price of social institutions and we consider school in terms of its averages more than individuals.
To be methodical does require case-by-case application: filling in the gaps either in an individual's knowledge or of the situation, which is not to say that this process is ever finished, given the course of time, organic growth, changing perspectives. We cannot occupy all perspectives at once.
Speaking of Auerbach, we may remember the humanities project of his age connected with the attempt to reconstruct the world of a text, through careful reading, erudition, intuition, and a variety of other skills in critical thinking and interpretation. It is a romantic concept, that we can ever walk in someone else's shoes. But some people feel addressed by texts, feel drawn into the conversation, like a poet who knows she is not brilliant at poetry but feels compelled to continue writing in verse. That said, there are ways by which a poet or an interpreter can be assessed: quality and range of language and thought, finesse.




'Right' or 'good' poetry, interpretation, etc, is the skill to highlight what might remain unaddressed by an audience, the ability to speak in complexity and yet convey a message that can be internalised by a public by having sympathetically spoken to what is relevant in a way that is fruitful. To write 'fruitful' today is problematic because not all marked 'fruit' is healthy. Perhaps I may speak of the sweetness that comes from work in the way that bread is broken down into sugar. Think of how hard it was for the Native Americans of yesteryear to make maple syrup. That sweet treat was therefore valued, and not guzzled mindlessly while reading (what a terrible habit to eat while doing anything; even talking may be problematic).
Ah, but not so fast, says the critic. The parenthesised observation is 'wrong' even in my own experience. There are jobs where one either eats while on the job or goes hungry, like if one works as a subeditor (there is a reason why such people exist: one's own writing needs far more time to be edited properly by one's self). So 'right' and 'wrong' are subject to change in particular situations. I therefore modify my desired standard to be 'better' and 'good' - the latter meaning not mean-spirited or deliberately harmful.
To speak of 'better' instead of 'good' is to speak in human terms. Just as to speak of a beginning that starts with a word is to speak from our perspective. Better stories are those that, on their being told, already bear fruit for re-tellings. In my opinion, better stories also combine the Horatian recipe of the delightful with the necessary, for the solely saccharine story does not leave one with necessary tools: even the sweet theme of love presents problems in practice. Maybe all good ideas actually get translated down into practice, but how could one store those good, healthy ideas if one did not create the treasure attic called abstraction, where many a thinker is wont to get lost, forgetting that ideas lose their worth when not exercised.
There is a greed even of ideas, storing more than can be used at any given time.
Therefore I take for my model here the wound, pulling into itself the dressing it needs, taking its time to heal, and in this slower way, leaving no scar but health as the trace of its existence.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License