Renaissance



I've been trying to find a way in to a set of thoughts which keep recurring to me, so here is an effort --


I've spent the last three weeks in a strange state of longing -- there is the particular longing for the one who has left, but there is also a nostalgic longing, for a return to a different way of knowing. I have been writing imaginary letters, re-reading books from my childhood and fighting against the sort of learning I do here. In the books from my childhood all is simple and yet vastly complicated -- there are forces which are beyond our ken, working in the world and in individuals to change and create and eradicate. There are a set of lessons which arise again and again -- love is the strongest force in the world, creation is preferred above all, effort is always rewarded, self-knowledge is opposed to selfishness, the whole is much more than a sum of its parts, and so on. They are lessons which I believe in so strongly and so deeply that to realize how easily they are forgotten is painful.

I have forgotten these lessons -- lessons which will last long but require attention and engagement. But I am returning to them now, like Proust's undersea diver, feeling my way across symbols and representations which promise some sort of wonder-ful contentment.

But these lessons stand opposed to so much of the other lessons in my life. What do I mean? I do not know. It has something to do with Leibniz, the philosopher to whom I have been turning these days. It has something to do with his monads and his apperception and his God. It also has something to do with Cassirer and his philosophy and his history. It has something to do with Sophocles and Oedipus when he dies -- the lesson he has learned. It has something to do with little Meg Murray and Charles Wallace and Calvin O'Keefe in Madeleine L'Engle's wonderful books. It has something to do with persepective and perception -- points of view. It has something to do with God -- but not what most people mean by God, but rather some other sense which has always lurked inside of me -- believing not because of justification or evidence, but because to believe is to trust and to tend and to strive. It has something to do with understanding and wonder -- and less to do with knowing (though I can rarely tell the difference). It has something to do with the self -- the thing of which I know so little.

I grow weary of the 'philosophy' and the 'teaching' I do here. It breaks my spirit. Maybe I would like it better if it masqueraded under a different name -- but it is both too close and far too far from the philosophy and the teaching I have done elsewhere.

There are little lights though -- the light today when reading Koffka's strange Gestalt theories -- a hybrid of Whitehead and Leibniz. The light reading Spinoza last week and speaking of his creation -- learning what it was he had done, and how little it is understood. The light reading these small, simple books -- books about love and friendship and communication and understanding. The light that comes from thinking about a paper project -- a paper on perception and beauty that turns outward to understand the inward. But the greatest light comes from remembering to be strange and to be open and to be sensitive and to remember laughter and make-believe and finding voices and understanding in the places that others have forgotten to look.