Monday, November 30, 2009

Memory of You

Slowly forgetting as my memories drift away
far, far way into imagination's dream land;
flickering in the firelight, I see yesterdays merge;
voices blur and I can no longer understand.
Where have they gone- my days of childhood, my past?
Your face is softened to nothing; still I feel
you were smiling. I try to focus and blow away the dust;
your face becomes sickeningly polished and surreal.
But I remember the rain, as I hear it now.
And I know I was glad, and was unafraid,
for you cherished me though you never said it
all the time you were with me, all the time you stayed.
My heart remembers even if my eyes do not.
My promises I recall; each one I will fulfill.
You are never far from me, for you I will not forget:
You loved me then, and I love you still.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Diagram of the Soul

I was talking a couple of nights ago to a very close friend, and the topic of the soul came up. A little over a year ago I came up with a diagram of the soul, as below.Central Circle: Place of inner peace and integrity, love; Where God is when the soul is in a state of Sanctifying grace; commonly called the "heart"
Middle Circle: Place of chaos, confusion, inner war, temptation from within
Outer Circle: What others see first; facade; reputation
Central Stripe: Existence; essence of your being and personality
Middle Right Stripe: Thoughts; opinions; philosophies
Middle Left Stripe: Feelings; emotions; passions
Outer Right Stripe: Talents; skills; hobbies; interests
Outer Left Stripe: Senses; how we perceive the things and people around us

Saturday, November 28, 2009

ART II ~Art is..........?

Thanks to Tolstoy's What is Art? I've been thinking about art a lot lately, and I've come up with this theory:

Essentially, art is the portrayal of truth through beauty; by doing this, it can reflect the goodness of God and lead to contemplation of things eternal.


I have charted out the components of Art in this way:


In art, beauty serves truth, but the relationship between truth and beauty do not have to be 50/50. Still, every component has to be there for it the work to merit the name 'Art'. art also has a relativity in that what some people call art others call junk. This is because what appeals to some people's senses is repulsive to others, what some people consider reasonable others think is stupid and nonsensical. I think people can pretty much agree on what reflects reality and what is orderly.
Notice that Order and Reason are more internal and mental qualities. Reason is an action of the mind, and order is something perceived by the mind. Meanwhile, appeal to the Senses and Reality are more physical and external qualities which we learn through our senses and through experience.
Now, I said in my theory that art can lead to the contemplation of the eternal. This ability and its effectiveness depend on two things: 1. the artist(s)' intention and his/her/their ability to fulfill the intention 2. the mental capacities of the audience.
Considering the first, no mater how much a person has a good intention, if they can't portray it, the art is stuck in their heads. This is why talent is such a huge thing to be an artist. As my friend pointed out, you can fix technique, but not talent. The talent of art is a God-given gift, and those with it have the ability to communicate well their intentions, to lead to truths beyond the senses by appealing to the sensible. The problem is when the intention is wicked and sinful. I cannot think of any situation when such an 'art' would lead beyond the sensible. Moreover, truth is a good thing even when it is far from beautiful. When exposed to such 'art', which I cannot quite consider merits the term 'art', the right thing to do is to avoid it and all temptations it will give.
Considering the second, no matter how simply the artist portrays the truth, if the audience is hopelessly or obstinately stupid, they won't understand, and again the art will by stuck in the head of the artist. So when viewing or listening or watching art, one should try to hear what the artist is saying, no matter how hard. If there is no message, mere beauty, then it is not art but mere beauty. Remember, however, that one person may get nothing from a work of art while others get very much, and so what may be mere beauty to one might be art to another.
To summarize, let's read one of my very, very, very favorite passages from one of my very, very, very favorite books:

2500 The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty. Likewise, truth carries with it the joy and splendor of spiritual beauty. Truth is beautiful in itself. Truth in words, the rational expression of the knowledge of created and uncreated reality, is necessary to man, who is endowed with intellect. But truth can also find other complementary forms of human expression, above all when it is a matter of evoking what is beyond words: the depths of the human heart, the exaltations of the soul, the mystery of God. Even before revealing himself to man in words of truth, God reveals himself to him through the universal language of creation, the work of his Word, of his wisdom: the order and harmony of the cosmos-which both the child and the scientist discover-"from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator," "for the author of beauty created them."290

[Wisdom] is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.291 For [wisdom] is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail.292 I became enamored of her beauty.293

2501 Created "in the image of God,"294 man also expresses the truth of his relationship with God the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works. Indeed, art is a distinctively human form of expression; beyond the search for the necessities of life which is common to all living creatures, art is a freely given superabundance of the human being's inner riches. Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man's own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill,295 to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God's activity in what he has created. Like any other human activity, art is not an absolute end in itself, but is ordered to and ennobled by the ultimate end of man.296

Friday, November 27, 2009

Aglow, Aglow, the Warm-Chilled Earth!

The earth is ablaze and alive:
Life steams up from the ground
in a thousand flashes of gold.
The leaves, they fall in golden ease
and rest in the folds of the golden ground
They roll and skitter, sparkles of glitter
and fall tumultuously down.

Splendor solemn, trees arising
in a sacred, solemn majesty.
A warmth, a world of golden bright.
The wind - the air - is soft and chilled
but warm the golden light
aflame with life.

See them dancing down the wind,
along the ground and down the wind?
rolling down the hill, sparkling in your hair?
Natural gold of our sacred God
falling here about our feet,
Aglow, aglow! the warm-chilled earth.



Birdsong

Birds sang, their voices light and sweet. Emily opened her eyes and listened to the morning. Emily was nineteen years old and a college student. But when she heard the songs of the birds, she was a little girl again, without a single worry or a single fear. Emily listened, and heard the birds of her childhood.
Emily was a little girl, and her daddy was big and strong. He went to work every morning. When he came home she attacked him with hugs and kisses, and told him what her mother had taught her in school. Her mother taught her at home. She taught Emily stories from the Bible, and how to read, and everything she thought Emily should know. Emily would sit on a stool in the kitchen, struggling through her reader. Her mom, washing dishes, would correct her mistakes and urge her on.
In spring, her mother and her would clean the house. It would smell of fresh soap and lilacs. Emily would run to the window and lean out, breathing the clean air of spring. The scents of flowers were faint upon the breeze. And the birds, singing and singing until Emily thought their hearts would burst.
Her daddy taught her to ride a bike. How proud she was when she could fly along the sidewalk with the other children. She even raced with the boys in their bike races. Once the boys piled up twigs to see who could break the most as they rode over them on their bikes. Emily won because her bike wheels were pure rubber, and the boys marveled at her bike.
On summer evenings, her dad would take her on walks. She loved to watch the sky as it settled soft and dark upon the neighborhood. The flowers of gardens glowed, and fireflies sparkled. The trees seemed strangely mysterious in the dim light of evening, as if they could move when you weren't looking.
. . . when she heard the songs of the birds. Then the alarm went off, and she had to be nineteen again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Punishment of God

Sometimes it seems as if God is a punishing being, and when I read a fellow blogger's view, I decided it was time to do some research into what my religion says of God's punishments. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

The Commandments [...] express the implications of belonging to God through the establishment of the covenant. Moral existence is a response to the Lord's loving initiative. It is the acknowledgment and homage given to God and a worship of thanksgiving.

So, we obey the Commandments, the morals given us by God because we are His, and it is our way of honoring and paying homage to God.
Consider also the quote, "Love elicits a response". Because God loves us, He gives us commandments and morals by which to live well and reach heaven. This love elicits our response in two ways. 1. Loving Him back (the 1st Commandment: "I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other god besides Me.") 2. Obeying Him. (the 2nd - 10th Commandments) The first way causes the second way, and the second reinforces and demonstrates the first.
Therefore, when He is punishing us, He is punishing us for making Him second in our hearts. He is also punishing us for extending this misdirected love/hate into our actions, which effect others.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Life of an Artist

I


Little girl sitting at the dining room table. Before her is a sheet of paper, and on the paper is a large, black circle. Around the circle is gray, like a gray doughnut with a huge black hole. A black hole. Around the gray is a squiggly line of purple. She can't think what more to draw. She pokes the purple crayon, rolling it along the edges of her paper. She looks at the black circle, ponderously. Her name is Cassandra. She-! Did the black hole just move? It seems to quiver. Not the black wax on the white paper but something Deep in the picture quivered. Cassandra shakes her head, quivers to break her concentration. And when she looks back at her drawing, she is very small.
She is very, very small. The little girl sitting with her chin in her fisted hands at the edge of a black hole. Behind her is gray. In the far horizon is a ring of squiggly purple. Before her is black and black and black. 'What is black?' She wonders. 'Is it anything more than this color?' But her questions are only little quiverings in her mind. She does not know how to say them, for she does not know the right words. Her thoughts are prisoners of her wordless mind.


II


Veins of white, where the black wax did not quite meet, ripple through the black hole. The veins are slitting farther. The peices of black are splintering apart. Where they shift, the paper under them glares white. Something deeper than the paper, nearer than the wax, is stirring. Something is moving and moving everything else. The gray throbs and the purple squiggly line, far in the distance, squirms uncomfortable.
Steady, up and down; up - the living thing under the black wax is trembling - violently. The white cracks, like lightening, shoot to the edges of the black. The gray heaves and lowers, vomiting a gray minst. Heaves and lowers. The purple squirms and rises. It is a ring of electric fury, snapping and flexing. It sends out purple and orange sparks. The enormous drawing comvulses in rhythm, as if it has a pulse.
The girl waits for the living force with a pulse to come out. She knows it will come out. Chunks of black wax are being rent from the paper and flung. They hurtle outwards. Just as they are about to smash down into the gray fog, they rear upwards. They lift and wheel around the black hole's edges. Cassandra watches all this. . . astonished. The chips of black wax are circling evenly, like horses on a carousel.
Little girl waiting. Waiting with her chin in her fisted hands, but nothing comes out of the black hole. 'How did my picture come alive?' She wonders wordlessly. 'Where did its life come from?' But there is no one to answer her questions. No one who can understand them. No one. The girl is entirely alone. She sits and waits, but there is nothing in the black hole.
There is more black orbiting in the air than black on the paper. Only a few specks of black still cling to the very, very blank white paper. The paper is empty of any secret. Cassanra walks into the center of the paper where the pulsing thing was supposed to be. There is a Deep pulsation, but it is so low she can barely hear it. But she feels it. Everywhere she feels it. She stands in the center of the very, very empty paper. But there is no wiggling beast giving her drawing life. There is only Cassandra. And the pulsation. The pulsation is very heavy here. She feels it in the edges of the paper, in the sparking, flexing purple line. She feels in it the heaving, vomiting gray mist, and the circling chunks of black wax, and along her skin. She feels it in her blood. It is a heart beating, heart of the little girl.