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Month: February 2010

A Poet’s Dilemma

A Poet’s Dilemma

Jane Campion's Bright Star. 2009
Jane Campion’s Bright Star. 2009

“Bright Star” is that rare combination: a film beautiful, brave, magical and idyllic, without being saccharine. The story of John Keats’ all too brief love affair with the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, moves at a pace organic, like a soft breeze across the heath, following the young lovers, sometimes pushing them gently on, but never overwhelming them to fit some static formula. The pace of the film never overwhelms the story, the actors, the scenery or the music of their romance, though there is plenty of darkness inside the light. Ominous signs converge with the Romantic setting, without commentary, without a filmmaker’s agenda.

Abbie Cornish plays Fanny Brawne, and she is dressed to suit the time and somewhat hide her very modern, nearly uncontainable wry sensuality. Her somber smile and her understated performance act to cool the natural warm force of her being, but not enough to make it by any means difficult to … Click to continue . . .

The Field of Being

The Field of Being

Georges de La Tour’s Magdelen and the Smoking Flame. 1640
Georges de La Tour’s Magdelen and the Smoking Flame. 1640

William Barrett, in his Irrational Man, introduces us to Existentialism and summarizes the development of Western Thought in the process. The book came out in 1958, but can be read fruitfully and applied productively to the problems we face today.

In the section on Heidegger, whom I haven’t read in years but should return to, Barrett discusses Heidegger’s Field Theory of Being, and places it in historical context.

The Greeks were the first to remove objects from their surroundings, their background, their context, so they could study them in isolation. In a sense, atomize them. This was necessary for the creation of Science. But the Greeks still lived in Nature, not in opposition to it, so this process wasn’t truly disruptive, much less fatal. Fast forward to Descartes, and we are sundered from Nature and our minds are split from our bodies. Subject and object. Mind and matter. Doubting … Click to continue . . .

What Price Freedom?

What Price Freedom?

School of Athens, by Raphael. 1510
School of Athens, by Raphael. 1510

Have been away, in limbo, on leave, out of sight and out of mind, for ages now. As you can see, the gears of Spinozablue have ground to a halt, and whispers fill the corridors. There may still be time for a renaissance of sorts, but it’s looking more unlikely by the hour. Though we will make that attempt and give it the old college try tonight and perhaps again very soon.

The reason for the painting is simple. It’s similar to the reason for my absence here. It reminds me of the disconnect between what we see and what remains hidden. Greeks have a beautiful word for truth, “aletheia,” which can be literally translated as the state of not being hidden. What is no longer hidden is the truth.

As the years have passed I have gotten closer and closer to the truth of the matter, at least for me. Though with each … Click to continue . . .