Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Some thoughts on thought Itself, in poem and painting

The older I get the more I find myself lost in thought, and very pleasant it is too.  So it was a joy to find my feelings about it so well described in two different media, separated by 2000 years: a poem by D.H Lawrence, and a fresco by an unknown artist in Pompeii.

I love this poem;  both thought-provoking, and straight out provoking.  

Thought:  by D.H. Lawrence
Thought, I love thought.
But not the jiggling and twisting of already existent ideas
I despise that self-important game.

Thought is the welling up of unknown life into consciousness,
Thought is the testing of statements on the touchstone of the conscience,
Thought is gazing on to the face of life, and reading what can be read,
Thought is pondering over experience, and coming to a conclusion.
Thought is not a trick, or an exercise, or a set of dodges,
Thought is a man in his wholeness, wholly attending.

See what I mean?  Hopelessly flawed!  Banal and arrogant in the opening, betraying the very self-importance that he disavows, followed by soaring and beautiful descriptions of inner experience in the middle, and an ending which I (not a man) find highly affronting, and at the same time totally descriptive of exactly what happens to a person lost in thought.  Most provoking.  But I love it even so.

I also love, perhaps even more, the way in which this ancient artist has captured exactly the same moment of full engagement, of gazing into the middle distance, but without a touch of self-importance.

c. 50Sapho (?).  Pompei.  

In fact, I'm finding this really a haunting picture, of the moments, perhaps long moments, before writing.


You may also enjoy The Gift.  It, too, includes a quote about the inner person, and if I remember rightly was also dogged by inappropriate use of the masculine pronoun.  Although there I did not resist the temptation to excise it.

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