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Katlin Profile
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One of My Favorite Quotes


I came across this quote years ago and liked it so much I typed it up and keep the copy on my desk:

“. . . we might ask whether understanding and insight are products or signs of receptive consciousness. . . . We may have ceased manipulative activity and fallen quiet; we are listening. We are not trying so much to produce a particular product or answer as we are trying to understand, to see. Whereas explanation is controlled, contrived, and constructed, understanding—like joy—comes unpredictably. At one moment we are baffled, stymied. Then, suddenly, the light dawns. C. S. Lewis speaks of being ‘surprised by joy’ and similarly, we may be surprised by understanding. It is not something we do that produces the light, although things we have done undoubtedly contribute to the event, but it is something that happens, something that is revealed to us. This is the beginning of creativity, the mode in which understanding begins and is completed. Again and again it is described as receptive. . . . Just as joy may arise without reference to a particular object, what-is-there may make itself known without our striving to define it. There are times when we must stop thinking in order to make sensible connections. . . . Neither joy nor the receptivity of which we have been talking is passive; both are active but not manipulative, not assimilative. They do not strive to impose structure, but they open all channels to perceive it. They represent an opening-up and a taking in. . . . The thing or idea may ‘speak’ to us.”

from Caring: A Feminist Approach to Ethics and Moral Education by Nel Noddings



Last edited by Katlin, Jul/19/2013, 7:03 am
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Terreson Profile
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Re: One of My Favorite Quotes


This is quite good, spot on. I figure Camus could relate to this kind of active interiority, for lack of a better descriptor. "The need to be right speaks of a vulgar mind."

Tere
Jul/21/2013, 4:20 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
arkava Profile
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Re: One of My Favorite Quotes


quote:

Katlin wrote:

I came across this quote years ago and liked it so much I typed it up and keep the copy on my desk:

“. . . we might ask whether understanding and insight are products or signs of receptive consciousness. . . . We may have ceased manipulative activity and fallen quiet; we are listening. We are not trying so much to produce a particular product or answer as we are trying to understand, to see. Whereas explanation is controlled, contrived, and constructed, understanding—like joy—comes unpredictably. At one moment we are baffled, stymied. Then, suddenly, the light dawns. C. S. Lewis speaks of being ‘surprised by joy’ and similarly, we may be surprised by understanding. It is not something we do that produces the light, although things we have done undoubtedly contribute to the event, but it is something that happens, something that is revealed to us. This is the beginning of creativity, the mode in which understanding begins and is completed. Again and again it is described as receptive. . . . Just as joy may arise without reference to a particular object, what-is-there may make itself known without our striving to define it. There are times when we must stop thinking in order to make sensible connections. . . . Neither joy nor the receptivity of which we have been talking is passive; both are active but not manipulative, not assimilative. They do not strive to impose structure, but they open all channels to perceive it. They represent an opening-up and a taking in. . . . The thing or idea may ‘speak’ to us.”

from Caring: A Feminist Approach to Ethics and Moral Education by Nel Noddings




reading this again at the end of a mindless day -- peace. and not the peace the monks talk about but a more real, more personal one. kat, thanks.

Aug/8/2013, 12:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to arkava   Send PM to arkava Blog
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: One of My Favorite Quotes


You're welcome, arka. I have "rewritten" the above to reflect the process of intimacy and love. If I have time over the weekend, I will type it up and post it for you.
Aug/9/2013, 8:09 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Kat, I've come back to your quote, finding in it an insight deeper than maybe I first noticed.

The author takes pains to say such a groundbed of insight or understanding is not a passive, but an active thing. If the distinction is important to her I can go along with her need there. But in the interest of defending the right and honorable apparent passivity in the understanding, insight, and the creative process, I got to say ain't nothing wrong with a certain passiveness in taking in experience, a preliminary step in all understanding I think. Do you know what I mean?

Words can get in the way in these matters. More specifically, the personal value we give to certain words is what runs interference. If she doesn't like the word, passive, I'm good with that. I don't mind the word, have come to value it as signifier. Here is something of what I mean.

Decades ago I was into the practice of magic. Pretty good at it too. (Think I've told the story but worth repeating.) One day it occurred to me I had to make a choice between working my will, which is all magic amounts to, and making poetry. It seemed to me then, still does, that in order to make poetry I had to go receptive, passive, submit to experience no matter how overpowering it is. Without submitting to it, I reasoned, how could I know experience. Without the fullest of experience how could I hope to make poetry as universal as I'm capable of making and that speaks to the whole of what it means to be human? So I let go of magic. Beyond keeping alive in order to survive I stopped trying to stamp my will on things.

Active/passive. Probably just a word thing, a semantical bias. And words can so get in the way, which is a terrible thing for a poet to say who predicates his reason for being on words. Still, I long ago learned it's okay to go passive, take in all experience like a sponge. Just riffing on your theme.

Tere
Aug/10/2013, 5:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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