an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Friday, August 1, 2008

. . . . .


Most days I wake up convinced that the difference between art and religion isn't significant enough to call it different. Only (and by only I don't mean merely) their claims distinguish them, in the sense that art makes very different claims on reality than religion does, engaging with reality as it can through the multifaceted posture of the unreal, whereas religion, poor religion, speaks of ultimate realities in such a way as to order all its gesticulations towards the vanishing point in the horizon and beyond.

Given there is a greater difference between art and religion than I'm allowing, for some reason I can't figure religion is articulated, reflected, conveyed, sustained, and practiced almost entirely in aesthetic forms. Which makes the territory between faith and image especially treacherous to navigate, for image, any image, requires a certain amount of believability to be interpretable as an image, abstract or not--much less for it to be meaningful. And yet the most obvious difference between art and religion is faith: you are called to believe its icons, its words, in interpretation are not merely art.

It is odd, isn't it, to hold an icon in your hands and to know that it represents the unrepresentable? And to feel as though that logic has clarity? The writing and reading of icons in Catholicism is traditionally very close to the writing and reading of poetry. Except that writing icons involves a lot of prayer, you point out. --And doesn't writing poetry on the wishing longing level too?

And I don't know for certain, but it seems that the nonrepresentational aspect of spirit and of the subjective experience of spirit led in the nondenominationalist culture I grew up in to a hyperbolic literalism, so as to avoid at all costs confusing God with creation. God is not His objects. And He's not the poet we want Him to be either.

(NC once in passing: "What does it mean that He gave us truth through poetry? And how beautiful is that?")


"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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