Reply To: The Experience of Art

  • Don Salmon

    June 21, 2023 at 3:31 am

    I absolutely love this – I love the guy overhearing and then engaging them, sparking a sense of wonder – the key to the answer to their question (which is not really an “answer” in the way we usually think of it these days)

    Just one thing – when the guy says the Greeks thought the Gods came to them from the ‘external world” –

    he’s using a modern form of thinking that would have made absolutely no sense to the Greeks.

    Owen Barfield, as usual, has given us one of the most perfect metaphors –

    before modern times, he wrote, the average human being felt the cosmos almost like a cloak which enfolded them, enwrapped them.

    Since the dawn of the modern age, we feel more and more like we’ve somehow been placed in a world mostly alien to us, from which we’ve been estranged.

    When we try to imagine what stories or Gods or whatever meant to people not living in our age, we almost inevitably bring our way of attending to the world into it, without realizing it.

    Krishna Prem, in an essay on symbolism written in the 1920s, said something shocking to our modern ears but actually quite simple once you get it.

    Rather than thinking of Apollo as a myth about the sun, you could almost say the sun – that is, the supposedly “physical” object as our modern eyes perceive it, is a myth about Apollo.

    And of course, who better to end with than William Blake?

    Blake was questioned by a stereotypically phlegmatic Englishman (hey folks, don’t be angry with me – that was Blake’s word), “But surely Mr. Blake, when you look up at the sky you see a roundish golden disc about the size of a guinea?”

    “No, no,” Blake responded. “I see a host of heavenly angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest, Hallelujah.”

    And we fail to understand because we think Blake was being “merely” poetic!