Life is a sonnet : an illustrated passage from A wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’engle
Madam says life is a sonnet and we are doomed within its strict structure. But we have the freedom to say whatever we can within its stifling form. So please keep your Iambs ready, neatly cut and if the syllables spill use an inverted coma. But fit the syllables within the allotted emphasis.
Remember you have just fourteen lines. Not all of them are of uniform size because some syllables are more equal than others. Cut out your love for uniform size. Let them spill if that cannot be helped and use your punctuation with a little license.
You do not have much to say by the twelfth line and you are already in the epigrammatic mode? Well yes that is how it happens in life as in sonnet. If nothing else you use the epigram for the headstone.
“Poetry, like all art, has a trinitarian function: creative, redemptive, and sanctifying,” Vassar Miller asserted. “It is creative because it takes the raw materials of fact and feeling and makes them into that which is neither fact nor feeling. Redemptive because it transforms pain, ugliness of life into joy, beauty. Sanctifying because it gives the transitory a relative form of meaning.”
Brain Pickings 22/11/2016
How true! Of the three functions cited here, I think the first one is closest to my own idea of what poetry does. Poetry transforms a drab fact or a plain detail into a beautiful keepsake. As we go along in our lives, we keep collecting them as our own private little trophies to inspect and admire at leisure. The second one is also relevant to our experience. Poetry transforms the ugly facts of our life into enduring tokens of beauty. It takes away the pain from a memory, translates it into a bearable experience .The third one is relatively less significant but has some usefulness .Being conscious of the transitory nature of all experiences takes away their meaning . Poetry ,in the way it universalizes them,invests them with meaning and permanence.
The human mind has this constant need to conform because it is otherwise free beyond any limitations that define structures governing human activity.There is this need to be like everybody .The moment we are free we feel lost and disoriented in the vast wild wastes of logical possibility. Hence the defining structures.We always try to devise newer structures because we are afraid of being sucked into the uncertainty of the infinity,the kind of borderless existence that fills us with fear.Human existence is a matter of so much enclosed space with a dream which refuses to acknowledge contours. Art is a uniquely human endeavor to break down structures ,to demolish contours and become part of space which is not defined by any outlines. The only way such a thing is possible when the body disappears . Art is a death-like experience when the individual attempts to burst out of enclosed spaces.
Dance is an effort to extend human existence into the infinity of space.When the dancer throws her limbs in space in her dance movements she extends the frontiers of her own enclosed space. The abstract artist demolishes the outlines of physical objects and abolishes form and structure in order to experience freedom. That is the only way one invents freedom,the freedom which is hiding behind form and symmetry.When we dream on the side of our pillow we experience scary freedom ,when we disappear in the vastness of space . We have invented our God , a finite God with arms akimbo ,enclosed in the claustrophobic space of a human-like form because we are scared of an infinite God who is not enclosed in finite space.
Does beauty in nature conform to the known and accepted aesthetic principles of color,balance,texture,symmetry,harmony etc.?
Actually we do not see such principles in application in nature. For instance does a painter paint bright green foliage against deep translucent sky as we often see in the summer sky, without playing down the blue of the sky? Yet this is what we see and enjoy in nature. The combination of colors in nature is dynamic and relative to the time and space of the moment.A painter cannot achieve the same beauty if he does not employ the commonly accepted aesthetic principles of color combination,color texture,contrived color effects, creating an ideal artistic space which can be appreciated by the human mind.
The “combo” effect of several elements present in the beauty of nature cannot be reduced to the enunciation of a few principles as in art.The beauties of nature are something we all enjoy without the need to break them down to a few principles of critical appreciation.
The beauty of nature goes much beyond the aesthetics of human appreciation .There is something about nature which appeals to you even when there is no conformance to the known and accepted principles of aesthetics. Take for example the texture and shapes of the straggling boulders of our Hyderabad rock-scape which are pleasing to the eye despite the randomness of their arrangement.A sculptor would impose some formalism on their existence ,position under the sky,sharing of space with foliage,their own textures and colors related to the sky of the moment etc. You will not find in them a symmetry such as we attempt in art .For example an artist will not paint just a single rock under the sky but juxtapose it with another flatter rock ,a road or passage and fill the canvas with two or three palm trees.That is how symmetry is sought to be achieved .In nature we find randomness which is the opposite of harmony and the absence of deliberate positioning of objects.
We may look at death as cessation of consciousness , the subject experiencer becoming the object that is experienced. Looked at this way death does not mean obliteration but only an extension of the subject’s existence.
I look at death in yet another perspective.A person who is born becomes an Idea in Time and continues to exist as an Idea even after death.Thus all those who had lived and died before us are not obliterated but remain rooted in existence although they have ceased to exist in space.
When we were children we were eating our meals while squatted on the floor as the women of the house would serve food into our plates. As we grew up we adopted the western system of eating on a table.
I now find that squatting on the floor gives us a novel perspective, a unique line of vision in a world of standing people .Our sense of space suddenly becomes enriched with vast new spaces released into our visual perspective. Our vision becomes linear with furniture legs and table cloth frills .
When we raise our eyes we look at the ceiling fan with a curved perspective , a breath taking angle from which we see the fan as a kind of crooked oval object with its shadow playing on the intersection of the floor with the wall. Then all those people seem to be strutting about in the room like midnight shadows shuffling their large feet grotesquely disproportionate to their comically lean torsos and tiny faces stuck up on them.
(This intuitive sense of self is an effortless and fundamental human experience. But it is nothing more than an elaborate illusion. Under scrutiny, many common-sense beliefs about selfhood begin to unravel. Some thinkers even go as far as claiming that there is no such thing as the self.)
Read more at http://www.newscientist.com/special/self
Our everyday illusion begins to grow as the sun ripens to a fruit in the tree hanging in glory for its falling moment. Our shirt sticks to the body of illusion, our self growing out of a banana fiber made of words of purported meaning.
Fiber grows transparent as the sun grows making the body a silhouette by dusk. And silhouettes disappear as sketch outlines bodies experience before the sun sets.
Bodies are mind’s constructs in yesterday. Yesterdays are body’s constructs in mind, re-assembled , as we grow out of words and get up and grow, away from the sun like naked holy men who came to the river from the snow hills, hanging their selves.