View Full Version : inspiration and futility
07-27-2007, 05:45 PM
yesterday i left my flat and coming down the stairs i saw the most perfect spider's web strung between the bannister and the wall. i had a robert the bruce moment, despite being late for work, and contemplated this marvel of natural engineering. it was right in my way, and if i hadn't seen it, i would have simply walked through it, destroying all that hard work. so i gingerly stepped over it and continued on my way, glancing back at the web glistening in the sun.
it was a futile gesture, of course, there are other people living in my house, and when i got home it was gone. but it made me think about how we strive and build beautiful things only for forces way beyond our control to come and destroy it all.
i felt inspired by the act, and forlorn at it's fate.
any other examples of inspirational futility?
07-27-2007, 06:32 PM
i don't know if it's a perfect analogy but i was thinking about something similar with the soap i make at home. i put a lot of effort into devising and refining and (i hope) perfecting the recipes. and between prep time and temperature management and additives, etc, each batch takes 2-3 hours to mix and get into the mold and insulated and stashed for curing.
and when all is said and done, the final product's destiny is to be destroyed. held under water and melted and thoroughly used up and eliminated. the best outcome for one of these bars is to become no more.
07-27-2007, 07:27 PM
He [Stephen Hero] was passing through Eccles' St one evening, one misty evening, with all these thoughts dancing the dance of unrest in his brain when a trivial incident set him composing some ardent verses which he entitled a "Vilanelle of the Temptress." A young lady was standing on the steps of one of those brown brick houses which seem the very incarnation of Irish paralysis. A young gentleman was leaning on the rusty railings of the area. Stephen as he passed on his quest heard the following fragment of colloquy out of which he received an impression keen enough to afflict his sensitiveness very severely.
The Young Lady-(drawling discreetly) ... 0, yes ... I was ... at the ... cha ... pel ...
The Young Gentleman- (inaudibly) ... I ... (again inaudibly) ... I ...
The Young Lady-(softly) ... 0 ... but you're ... ve ... ry ... wick ... ed .
This trivialit*y made him think of collecting many such moments together in a book of epiphanies. By an epiphany he meant ' a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments.
-Yes, said Stephen. I will pass it time after time, allude to it, refer to it, catch a glimpse of it. It is only an item in the catalogue of Dublin's street furniture. Then all at once I see it and I know at once what it is: epiphany.
-Imagine my glimpses at that clock as the gropings of a spiritual eye which seeks to adjust its vision to an exact focus. The moment the focus is reached the object is epiphanised. It is just in this epiphany that I find the third, the supreme quality of beauty.
-You know what Aquinas says: The three things requisite for beauty are, integrity, a wholeness, symmetry and radiance. Some day I will expand that sentence into a treatise. Consider the performance of your own mind when confronted with any object, hypothetically beautiful. Your mind to apprehend that object divides the entire universe into two parts, the object, and the void which is not the object. To apprehend it you must lift it away from everything else: and then you perceive that it is one integral thing, that is a thing. You recognise its integrity. Isn't that so?
-That is the first quality of beauty: it is declared in a simple sudden synthesis of the faculty which apprehends. What then? Analysis then. The mind considers the object in whole and in part, in relation to itself and to other objects, examines the balance of its parts, contemplates the form of the object, traverses every cranny of the structure. So the mind receives the impression of the symmetry of the object. The mind recognises that the object is in the strict sense of the word, a thing, a definitely constituted entity. You see?
-Let us turn back, said Cranly.
They had reached the corner of Grafton St and as the footpath was overcrowded they turned back northwards. Cranly had an inclination to watch the antics of a drunkard who had been ejected from a bar in Suffolk St but Stephen took his arm summarily and led him away.
-Now for the third quality. For a long time I couldn't make out what Aquinas meant. He uses a figurative word (a very unusual thing for him) but I have solved it. Claritas is quidditas. After the analysis which discovers the second quality the mind makes the only logically possible synthesis and discovers the third quality. This is the moment which I call epiphany. First we recognise that the object is one integral thing, then we recognise that it is an organised composite stru ' cture, a thing in fact: finally, when the relation of the parts is exquisite, when the parts are adjusted to the special point, we recognise that it is that thing which it is. Its soul, its whatness, leaps to us from the vestment of its appearance. The soul of the commonest object, the structure of which is so adjusted, seems to us radiant. The object achieves its epiphany.
Having finished his argument Stephen walked on in silence. He felt Cranly's hostility and he accused himself of having cheapened the eternal images of beauty. For the first time, too, he felt slightly awkward in his friend's company and to restore a mood of flippant familiarity he glanced up at the clock of the Ballast Office and smiled:
-It has not epiphanised yet, he said.
~ James Joyce: Definition of Epiphany (excerpt originally published in James Joyce's Stephen Hero)
07-27-2007, 08:08 PM
when I was a child my mother would sometimes take me to junkanoo - the traditional xmas carnival of the bahamas - people known as "rushers" dance from midnight until eight the next morning, some wearing elaborate costumes weighing 80 lbs or more.
saxons (http://www.junkanoo.com/groups/saxons.html), valley boys (http://www.junkanoo.com/groups/group.asp?group_id=2), music makers (http://www.junkanoo.com/groups/music_makers.html), and others
the different groups spend the whole year making costumes for two nights - boxing day and new year's day.
after the parade is done, the rushers cast off the costumes and toss them in the gutter, where the garbagemen pick them up and take them to the dump.
I couldn't understand this at all when I was a kid. why go to all the trouble to make these costumes and then just throw them away?
it's kind of like life though. the value is in the process, not the resulting physical artifact...
07-27-2007, 08:12 PM
A Break in the Crowd
At first only a flash across the room,
I drifted group to group til I could see
The jeweled attacking hawk between her breasts.
You know, I’m sure, the way most women to whom
You’re talking think it isn’t cool to be
Looked at except in the eyes, or else it suggests
The malest things about the way you think?
Not this one. She held her bare shoulders back
Like handles, and slowly looked down, so chic
And bold in her molded skin that, link by link,
The silver chain led my stare to the black
Wings, the diamond eyes, the golden beak,
Down to where the sharp talons pressed
Lightly into her skin as she took a deep
Breath then quickly looked up and damn it caught
Me wishing I were jewelry. My aging chest
Strained out, my paunchy stomach in: a leap
Of maybes giggled through me. Then I got
A glimpse in a mirror through a break in the crowd
Of a flabby balding fellow in front of her.
I thought, “Some couples shouldn’t be allowed.”
Before I moved, and realized who they were.
07-27-2007, 08:18 PM
A couple of months ago the bf and I were walking on the beach when we noticed a ladybug struggling in the sand. I tried to turn him over, but he wasn't able to handle the sand too well, so the bf picked him up and held him, not really thinking about what to do with him next.
We walked along a bit more, and noticed another two little guys struggling in the sand. We picked them up, too - they migrated to the bf's lovely t-shirt and jacket.
We kept finding ladybugs - there were so many that we started using my sandal to harbor them. Once they were on there, they just hung out...
There were three times this many by the time we left the beach. The bf took them across the street and found a garden or green area to let them off in - they really didn't want to leave the safety of my sandal after their ordeal! He had to kind of knock 'em off gently.
We think maybe they were let loose in a nursery nearby, got caught up an a strong draft (it was windy that day) and were carried to the beach. Many of them died in the sand; we stopped before we saved all of them, I'm sure. We talked about how they probably wouldn't live very long, anyway; about how, if they weren't ladybugs, we wouldn't have felt so compelled to save them. And really, in the end - you know, such a small silly thing to do...
And yet, it made us feel really good. We have a lovely memory and some nice pictures... and maybe those ladybugs were able to protect a rose in someone's back yard. Ya never know. :)
07-27-2007, 09:13 PM
Speaking of spiders, I've got a daddy long-legs type of spider living in my bathroom. I'm not talking a teeny baby; I'd say she's (?) an adult. When I usually find spiders of that size, I scoop them up in a container & release them outside.
Anyways, I find it quite interesting that she decided to set up house in a virtually bug-free zone. Usually a exercise in futility, indeed. However, what's intrigued me about this particular spider is that she actually caught a bug of some kind last week (& who knows what else has been caught where I can't see); so, maybe it's not as futile as I think?
07-28-2007, 09:36 AM
great answers everyone.
i like rob's t-shirt la la.
and lukku's reminded me of a festival i saw once on tv in which these amazing designs are made on the street, with flowers i think, and then a procession walks right over them, destroying everything. anyone know what that is?
we're all busily building and creating; homes, careers, relationships etc etc, but all our efforts are doomed. along comes an earthquake, tsunami, or time takes it's toll, but still we keep at it. what is that force which drives us on?
07-28-2007, 09:51 AM
07-28-2007, 10:34 AM
The second thing that came to mind when I saw this thread was Tibetan sand painting.
Each one takes the monks days to make -- they use those tiny brass cones to direct the flow of the colored sand, as the rod rubbed across them edges it out. It's a type of religious practice, done incredibly carefully, with lots of ceremony and ritual. They're usually mandalas, meant to purify and heal the environment and people around them. The investment of time and earnest spiritual practice is mindboggling to me.
And then, when it's done, this absolute masterwork of concentration and incredible beauty, they sweep it up from the outside edges in, destroying the pattern utterly. This symbolizes, as I understand it, the return of all to the source of all. Half the sand is given to the people who come to the ceremony for their healing, and the other half is poured into the nearest river, where it will eventually flow to the sea, and thus the rest of the world.
The first thing I thought of was the inspiration of my son just out of the bath -- his beautiful pink skin, clean little nails that I have to trim so carefully to avoid nicking him, his wrinkly toes. Whenever I dry him off and see the thousand tiny blond hairs on his back, I think about how my body nourished each one of them as he developed, from a single cell to trillions. The intricacy and formality and cooperative spiritual effort of that make the sand painting look like a stick figure scratched into the shore at the beach.
And in an hour, he's absolutely filthy, slug slime under his fingernails, mud from knees to toes, dead leaves in his hair, sweat and popsicle stains on his t-shirt.
It's not marmite, but somehow, this is also very inspiring.
07-30-2007, 04:23 PM
Iraq celebrates football victory
Thousands of Iraqis have spilled onto the streets to celebrate their football squad's Asian Cup victory, firing guns into the air despite a government ban.
Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 1-0. Celebratory gunfire was heard in Baghdad, where authorities had banned vehicles and urged fans not to gather.
It was feared crowds could be targets for bombers. Some 50 people died in attacks after Wednesday's semi-final.
Correspondents say Iraq's progress has temporarily united the divided country.
The team includes Sunni and Shia Muslims, as well as Kurds.
Thousands of Iraqis, who had been following the match in Indonesia on television, rushed into the streets of the capital and other cities to celebrate.
The crowds in Baghdad included members of the security forces. Guns were fired into the air despite an earlier warning by the authorities that any such displays would be punished.
"It's a huge success for Iraq and it's a very, very good news for Iraq," Iraq's national security adviser Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie told the BBC.
"You should come to see the jubilation and the joy which is spreading all over Baghdad's streets now. People are pouring in, hundreds of thousands of people are pouring into the streets."
Meanwhile, at the stadium in Jakarta, the BBC's Lucy Williamson said the atmosphere was electric.
She said there was huge sympathy and support in Indonesia for the Iraqi team, for their difficulties in training and the continuing violence at home.
Earlier, the Iraqi authorities banned the use of vehicles in Baghdad until 0600 (0200 GMT) on Monday in an effort to prevent a repeat of the bloodshed which followed the semi-final win.
A similar ban was also imposed in the northern city of Kirkuk.
Military spokesman Brigadier General Qassim Moussawi said they wanted to stop "terrorists, Sunni extremists and criminals from targeting the joy of the people".
Iraq surprised the football world by beating tournament favourites Australia, and then former winners South Korea in Wednesday's semi-final match.
Wild celebrations followed that victory, with crowds dancing in the streets and waving the national flag.
But the party was brought to a bloody end as insurgents detonated bombs in two parts of Baghdad, killing about 50 people.
08-03-2007, 07:54 PM
Reading this thread reminds me all the time I invested in different threads here - like "Beyond the Surface" - which got washed away with the tide. I was out of the country when all that happened, and I feel a bit devastated looking around here on the board, even though ultimately I think ze made a smart decision to simplify. I just wish I'd had an emergency bag packed with some precious items.
A Tibetan sand picture is created with the intent to destroy it. I find myself wondering what my intentions are now, knowing that it's all one big sand painting here.
08-04-2007, 12:24 AM
the principal difference (http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070803/elderly_mugged_church_080307/20070803?hub=CTVNewsAt11)
08-05-2007, 07:38 AM
Finally finding a stefanotis, planting it and having it eaten by frost.
08-05-2007, 09:52 AM
^That's funny, because it was a Frost poem that reminded me of this Berry poem.
I find his metaphorical use of the ground particularly compelling...
Song in a Year of Catastrophe
I began to be followed by a voice saying:
"It can't last. It can't last.
Harden yourself. Harden yourself.
Be ready. Be ready."
"Go look under the leaves,"
it said, "for what is living there
is long dead in your tongue."
And it said, "Put your hands
into the earth. Live close
to the ground. Learn the darkness.
Gather round you all
the things that you love, name
their names, prepare
to lose them. It will be
as if all you know were turned
around within your body."
And I went and put my hands
into the ground, and they took root
and grew into a season's harvest.
I looked behind the veil
of the leaves, and heard voices
that I knew had been dead
in my tongue years before my birth.
I learned the dark.
And still the voice stayed with me.
Walking in the early mornings,
I could hear it, like a bird
bemused among the leaves,
a mockingbird idly singing
in the autumn of catastrophe:
"Be ready. Be ready.
Harden yourself. Harden yourself."
And I heard the sound
of a great engine pounding
in the air, and a voice asking:
"Change or slavery?
Hardship or slavery?"
and voices answering:
And I was afraid, loving
what I knew would be lost.
The the voice following me said:
"You have not yet come close enough.
Come nearer the ground. Learn
from the woodcock in the woods
whose feathering is a ritual
of the fallen leaves,
and from the nesting quail
whose speckling makes her hard to see
in the long grass.
Study the coat of the mole.
For the farmer shall wear
the greenery and the furrows
of his fields, and bear
the long standing of the woods."
And I asked: "You mean a death, then?"
"Yes," the voice said. "Die
into what the earth requires of you."
Then I let go all holds, and sank
like a hopeless swimmer into the earth,
and at last came fully into the ease
and the joy of that place,
all my lost ones returning.
~Wendell Berry 1968
08-05-2007, 09:59 AM
life in general,
life in the particular
08-14-2007, 09:19 AM
Look closely -- it's not 'shopped
08-14-2007, 03:06 PM
i just cried a little bit because this is so brilliant...
08-14-2007, 04:34 PM
^^ I agree, it's ingenious, and good find.
08-14-2007, 04:39 PM
i just cried a little bit because this is so brilliant...
Yeah, I decided it was a good fit for this thread. :)
08-16-2007, 10:24 PM
Mona Lisa out of thumbtacks. If that ain't a metaphor, I don't know what is.
08-17-2007, 12:21 AM
08-18-2007, 09:00 PM
what is that force which drives us on?
... Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing." — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)
For me, it's discovery of ways of creating. I like the idea of the sand paintings, like very elaborate sand castles, but deliberately destroyed instead of passively returned to the sea. Losing something you've created invites you to deal with the loss, to embrace the fact that everything is impermanent, on loan, fleeting. It creates a space to recreate, if you don't let yourself become too caught up in the disappointment of loss - teaches you that you shouldn't. Life does go on, and the only thing to do then is to live it. And really living is creating, and there are many definitions for that.
I struggle with loss. Sand painting would be a very good exercise for me!
07-16-2008, 09:33 AM
vBulletin® v3.6.5, Copyright ©2000-2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.