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...The aim of scientific language is to provide exactly defined and unambiguous statements about reality; that of poetic language is to communicate reality, itself as experienced by means of imagery, evocation, tone, and the ambiguity--or rather the ambivalence--of paradox, of symbol.  That is not to say that poetic language is nebulous, vague, uncertain: on the contrary, the cutting edge of great poetry is sharper and digs deeper than that of any prose.  But we shall never hear what the mystic ( or the poet, or the musician) has to tell us if we are listening on the wrong wavelength. --Gerald Vann, O.P.

This was part of the "translator's note to Tielhard de Chardin's  Hymn of the Universe (which includes hie "Mass on the World,"  The Mass is "evocative" and beautiful.  It is also unorthodox and, arguably, heretical from a Roman Catholic point of view.  I'm not sure the Church has made up its mind yet about Chardin.

Vann, in his translator' note goes on in this vein for a another paragraph, writing and thinking, writing and thinking until he finally gets it wrong.  But a clue to where he is going is found in the last sentence of the above paragraph.  We must listen to the mystic on the right wavelength!

Max Weber once described himself as "religiously tone deaf" although, at another time, he also described himself as a "mystic."  (a contradiction that I, personally, have no trouble with)  I am probably that way myself.  I see truth in most of the different brands of all of the wortld's religions without being able to rank them on a scale of "zero to ten."  I admit a personal bias in favor of philosophical Taoism, but that is just what it is, a personal bias.  Arguments about which is best (unless you also get on the wrong side of my economic, political, racial, or gender biases while making your point) just leave me cold.

I;m the same way with music and poetry.  rhythm prevails over harmony, lyrics over music, meaning over beauty.  My favorite poets are Robert Service and William Blake (in that order).  Many who read this post have a love of music, some are musicians, and I'm sure you would all find my preferences there unformed and uninformed.

I'm not sure I have more than one "wavelength"  (The symtomollogy of autism suggests that some "normal" "wavelengths" might be missing.)  The first paragraph I ever read on phenomenology made be a believer.  Of course, how can it be otherwise.  There is a "reality" which is subjective or intersubjective on which there will never be full agreement--i.e phenomena; and there might be another "reality" which no one will ever know anything about--at least in this lifetime--i.e. Numenon.  It is this Numenon that we try to approach in prayer and contemplation.  To paraphrase Neils Bohr, we will never understand the Numenon until we totally  change our idea of what it means to "understand" something.  If this is what Vann meant by "wavelength." I guess I can agree with him.

If being able to change "wavelengths" means that people can simultaneously be mystics and Inquisitors or "compassionate conservatives"  maybe I should be glad I operate on only one "wavelength."


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
I like your "wavelengths" terminology. And you can see how far one wavelength can go.

I guess I tend to use metaphors of modes....
Jul. 26th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
Maybe your comment was incomplete.
Maybe I'll just have to figure out for myself what it meant.
Aug. 2nd, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
I think the optimum wavelength for me at least is an open one--that is to say an open minded approach to any topic. Which can have me trying to tune out any disharmony between me and an idea for balance. If I can't directly ask a question I guess I try to figure things out for myself, but nonetheless I always start out with an even base which I suppose is the first step to understanding anyone..

Is that what you mean by one "wavelength"?

Anyways thanks for posting some of the material you've been reading as well!
Aug. 2nd, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what I meant by "wavelength." Vann used it, and the way he used it struck me the wrong way. Anyway, I pretty much agree with your comment; but I fail to be open minded on some subjects (love and hate, racism, torture, wealth, fraud, murder) The indifference to misery, mine or others, which the Tao te Ching seems sometimes to recommend is still beyond me. That some things are good and others evil is not something I can totally get past. Of course, I have sometimes changed my mind as to which was which! For example, abortion: I agree that abortion is homicide, and probably should be regarded as murder (assuming states and laws are something we are stuck with for awhile). On the other hand, the control of the bodies of less powerful people at the discretion of the more powerful has been an offense against women and other less advantaged groups for centuries, for millenia.
For males or governments or religions to tell a woman she can't get an abortion seems almost like murder. Right now, I'm anti-abortion, but that could change tomorrow. Is that wishywashy or open minded or what?
Aug. 3rd, 2009 06:06 am (UTC)
At least you have possibility for change, some people are impossible when it comes to even small compromise.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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