Boldness

Perhaps the greatest lesson the [18th] century learned from its long, scrupulous, and imaginative comparison of it own experience with the larger past was the value of boldness; not the soi-disant boldness of negativism, of grudgingly withholding assent as we seek to establish our identities, prate of our integrity, or reach into our pockets for our mite of ‘originality’.  None of us, as Goethe said, is really very ‘original’ anyway; one gets most of what he attains in his short life from others.  The boldness desired involves directly facing up to what we admire and then trying to be like it.  –Walter Jackson Bate

The Art Must Enter the Body

The body of literature, with its limits and edges, exists outside some people and inside others.  Only after the writer lets literature shape her can she perhaps shape literature.  In working-class France, when an apprentice got hurt, or when he got tired, the experienced workers said, “It is the trade entering his body.”  The art must enter the body, too.  A painter cannot use paint like glue or screws to fasten down the world.  The tubes of paint are like fingers; they work only if, inside the painter, the neural pathways are wide and clear to the brain.  Cell by cell, molecule by molecule, atom by atom, part of the brain changes physical shape to accommodate and fit paint.  Anne Dillard, The Writing Life

The Long Hello

“Truth may be flashed out by one blow”, no doubt, but it is more often won by the slow gestation and maturing of normal experience.  Spiritual truth, certainty of God, the immense significance of Christ, the living contacts of the Holy Spirit, are attained as appreciation of beauty is attained, as artistic taste is gained, as tact is acquired, as moral insight is won, by the slow accumulation of experience which saves its gains and out of them builds a character that knows by second nature.  –Rufus Jones, The Mysticism in Robert Browning

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