The flickering moments of greatness.

Art, poetry, Thoughts
The artist sees a vision and is compelled to communicate it, he becomes a conduit of experience that metamorphoses with the viewer, the viewer may see a completely different experience from that of the artist. The conduit of what?  Possibly of the ineffable , the stuff of the ‘diivine’, what Schopenhauer called ‘Will’, and Einstein named as ‘holism’.  That continuum of binding collective (un)consciousness that resists captivity, discovery, nomenclature. We all recognise something in it, mysterious and unknowable yet meaningful , necessary to a fulfilling existence. The philospher worries it, tries to comprehend its nature, wants to explore its workings, its comings and goings, its motives and its effect on behaviour. It behaves like water held in the hand, and loses some of its nature once bounded by a glass. The imponderable questions slither and slide under the scrutiny of the greatest minds. 
“I do not believe in freedom of will. Schopenhauer’s words, “Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot want what he wants”, accompany me in all life situations and console me in my dealings with people, even those that are really painful to me. This recognition of the unfreedom of the will protects me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and judging individuals and losing good humour.  ”  Einstein
The musician moulds it, works with it as a potter with his clay, absorbed in a task as momentous as climbing a cloud. Impossible and yet necessary. And utterly transporting at times. Music evolves, like a living entity, it grows in a way beyond its composer and its players.
“The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain… Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.”   Schopenhauer
The man who makes his life music is in touch with a separate language , communicable beyond borders, across generations. According to Daniel Albright, “Schopenhauer thought that music was the only art that did not merely copy ideas, but actually embodied the will itself.”
Shakespeare demonstrates the Elizabethans view that music wa a manifestation of the universal order in which heaven and earth were created. In the Merchant of Venice,when musicians enter, Jessica remarks that she is never happy when she hears sweet music and that instead it makes her sad. Lorenzo explains to her that the sadness she feels is the hearkening of her soul to celestial powers. Lorenzo reminds Jessica that music affects even wild beasts, and that nothing in nature is immune to its ability to determine human emotion. “Mark the music.”
We should celebrate our artists, our philosphers and our music makers.  What would our lives be like without them using their tools and skills to shape works of art we all enjoy?  And to inspire and encourage us to make our own music, our own shapes of paint and daub.  Connecting with the essence of creativity that unlocks a new world of consciousness and experience is a means of making life fun, absorbing, meaningful. Wittle a stick, bake a cake, compose a football song, stand in the river of human activity. 
My world is made brighter, my world is made more meaningful by the writers and the painters, the sculptors and the music makers. I am grateful them, for their dedication, their acceptance of a gift that requires perseverance, has to withstand failures, rejections, impoverishment.  As the bard uttered, and subsequent to him Schopenhauer and Nietzsche,  “The object of art is to give life a shape. ”  -Midsummer Nights Dream
I shall end with a favourite of many, a vision of a human life , and of an imagined one. by a visionary poet.  Read it, and then again. It bears repeat.
      The Love Song of Alfred Prucock.      T S Eliot.
     S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep… tired… or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

. . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

13 thoughts on “The flickering moments of greatness.

  1. Thank you for taking the time to post these wonderful, thought-provoking pieces. I don’t always have the time to read every single one but when I do I always come away feeling refreshed and inspired by what you have to say. It was a joy to read Eliot again too. 🙂
    You’re welcome to come by anytime to visit my blog measured out in coffee spoons and crises.


    1. Thankyou!! I don’t know if yougot a reply from me before or not, I replied but don’t know if I hit enter! Anyways,you are a kind banana. I am always thrilled when someone comments on my musings!


  2. I am often captured by so-called “moments of brilliance” when I feel what I must write is imperative, that it will affect the human race in such a way, we will change our ways, better ourselves.
    Of course, this would not happen, but we must depend on the fact that we think this so we can continue to make things that MIGHT change us, MIGHT better us.


  3. Just found your blog while searching interesting thoughts and writings here. This passage of yours I liked the best “The musician molds it, works with it as a potter with his clay, absorbed in a task as momentous as climbing a cloud. Impossible and yet necessary. And utterly transporting at times. Music evolves, like a living entity, it grows in a way beyond its composer and its players” ….

    So much truth…and the thoughts you presented in other recent post “Dreamers of the dreams” accompanies this well. The spectator ultimately decides what it is the given piece of work means to him/her, like you wrote, but I would go even further than that, and state that ideas and creations may manifest themselves to be maybe even more alive through minds, thoughts and stories derived than the living than the person at the moment they created the experience.

    Thus creations are a captured viewpoint, a limited window for a particular mind trying to understand this world and everyone sees what they saw, but from a different perspective. This goes to say, that interpretation a person might have for a particular piece (like in your example, that none of the philosophies gave anything to the person in question, but poetry did) is not necessarily right or wrong. It just is and only if that thought is put into motion, it has a meaning.

    The greatest thought without an action, is in vain.


    1. Interesting viewpoint, thankyou for commenting so thoroughly. I agree to some degree, in that thought by itself cannot act and be change, but thought can be , and is the agent of change. the thought may be the work of the poet, philosopher, composer. It may take another mind to create the thought in an image that makes a tangible difference. in the world. That is one of the ineffable beauties of the thought process, it becomes something that ‘lives’, as you say. My world i s words, and I don’t have the dimension to ”do’, but I am content about that.


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