Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Here I am" - the turning point of Martin Buber's life and philosophy

     Martin Buber's I and Thou philosophy is based on a moment when Buber failed to say “Here I am” to one of his students.  Buber, the towering giant of modern Jewish philosophy, had just finished his morning studies and was still absorbed in his own thoughts when a young man knocked on the door of his study.  Buber was known as a wise counselor to many young, seeking souls.  Buber did not know Mehe, the young man at the door; nonetheless, he invited Mehe to come in.  Buber was far from rude to the man.  He listened politely to Mehe, but Buber’s mind and heart were very far from the conversation.  Buber failed to discern the urgency of Mehe’s visit.
     Two months later, one of Mehe’s friends came to see Buber and told him of Mehe’s death and what the young man had hoped his talk with Buber would be.  Mehe had come to Buber not casually, not for a chat but for a decision.  The decision was one of life and death.
     Buber was devastated by this revelation.  This young man had come to him out of burning need, but Buber was too absorbed in his own thoughts and in his own world to truly notice.  Buber’s life was changed forever by this encounter.  Buber’s life and philosophy were permanently redirected because of how he had failed to respond.  He wrote his new philosophy of religious living in a book called I and Thou. - Richard Jacobs

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Refreshing the Beautiful with the Grotesque

The modern muse . . . will realize that everything in creation is not humanly beautiful, that the ugly exists beside the beautiful, the unshapely beside the graceful, the grotesque on the reverse of the sublime. . . In the idea of men of modern times . . . the grotesque plays an enormous part. It is found everywhere; on the one hand it creates the abnormal and the horrible, on the other the comic and the burlesque. It fastens upon religion a thousand original superstitions, upon poetry a thousand picturesque fancies. . . How boldly it brings into relief all the strange forms which the preceding age had timidly wrapped in swaddling clothes! . . . We need a little rest from everything, even the beautiful. . . The grotesque seems to be a . . . starting-point whence one rises toward the beautiful with a fresher and keener perception. 
- Victor Hugo 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Yeats's Recipe for Timelessness

If the real world is not altogether rejected, it is but touched here and there, and into the places we have left empty we summon rhythm, balance, pattern, images that remind us of vast passions, the vagueness of past times, all the chimeras that haunt the edge of trance; and if we are painters, we shall express personal emotion through ideal form, a symbolism handled by the generations, a mask from whose eyes the disembodied looks, a style that remembers many masters, that it may escape contemporary suggestion; or we shall leave out some element of reality as in Byzantine painting, where there is no mass, nothing in relief, and so it is that in the supreme moment of tragic art there comes upon one that strange sensation as though the hair of one's head stood up.

Nor have we chosen illusion in choosing the outward sign of that moral genius that lives among the subtlety of the passions...

Monday, February 13, 2012

David Lynch on Eraserhead

Henry is very sure that something is happening, but he doesn't understand it at all. He watches things very, very carefully, because he's trying to figure them out. He might study the corner of a pie container, just because it's in his line of sight, and he might wonder why he sat where he did to have that be there like that. Everything is new. It might not be frightening to him, but it could be a key to something. Everything should be looked at. There could be clues in it.