Eyre Affairs

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Conflict with human weakness..." ~ Jane Eyre

Last fall, a professor challenged me with this statement after I presented a proposal for a paper that involved Denise Levertov's poetry about Vietnam: "So, perhaps human beings need war to be creative, and maybe the best works of art are because war exists, whether it be thematic or indirect. Without war, there would be no creativity."

My mouth gaped and such a statement; I was rendered speechless for a moment - but just a moment. I always recover to argue; I should be a lawyer. I should. I was able to disagree with him by stating that war is so horrific that artists need an outlet as a catharsis in order to deal with its horrors, that is the true reason why so many great works of art stem from war.

I believe I am right in my analysis, almost a year later.

This past week I find myself lethargic when it comes to my writing. I lack the energy to type, and I have lapse in my responses to other writers and in my comments to them. Indeed, the world seems to be on fire. I am deeply concerned about Israel this week. This Armenian woman knows what it is like for a people to fight to survive and exist. The events of this week just add to a conglomerate of concern for that entire region.

This is the true reason as to why I do not sleep well anymore.

Some days I tell myself that I might as well be living in 1968. My insides are as tight and my heart is as heavy as any other person living in the U.S. during that year who had a friend or loved one serving in the military. I anger quickly anytime I mention I know someone there and they think they are comforting me by talking politics. What does politics have to do with this scenario? How is bashing Bush going to make me feel better? It doesn't. I do enough of that in my own head, thank you. Still, there are others who have been quite a comfort of late; ironically, most of them are practically strangers. Indeed, these moments of comfort illustrate humanity at its best.

Much of my comfort lies in art. The poems like that of Denise Levertov, the lyrics of musicians, the literature of great epic poets and writers, the images of artists. All of these tend to lessen the the stressors involved whilst watching the evening news. The following poem is by Denise Levertov. Each morning I open my door to a huge array of hydrangeas, desiring nothing but peace, and I think about this poem.

July 1968

Topmost leaves of young oak,
young maple,
are red - a delicate red
almost maroon.

I am not young,
and yet not yet old. Young enough not to be able
to imagine my own old age. Something in me

puts out new leaves that are red also,
delicate, fantastic, in June,
early summer, late spring up in the north.

A dark time we live in. One would think
there would be no summer. No red leaves.
One would think there would be

no drawings-up of the blind at morning
to a field awake with flowers.
Yet with my tuft of new leaves

it is that field I wake to,
a woman foolish with desire.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Lynn said...

I think it is safe to say that most people don't understand and therefore do not feel what you are feeling. Our country is, for some reason, shrouded from our own war, from the wars of other countries that have a great effect on us. Use this darkness to write. Let it challenge you to change.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

There are three things that keep me from throwing myself off the nearest bridge:

1) Books
2) Music
3) Film

Yes, family and friends are wonderful. But the things that keep me from losing my mind have always been these things. I stand by my belief that Art heals, inspires, and generally makes life better. Art is, after all, just us trying to understand the human condition.
Funny that I go to Art even before I go to God a lot of the time. Hmm. Might need to call Therapist again. (smiles)

1:45 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Lynn ~ I think you are right in what you say. I think there are so many things in our society that allow us to lose touch with the struggle that is really going on. Indeed, I have no choice but to write. Thank you for your words of comfort and encouragement, as always.

Marty ~ Miss, you always put a smile on my face. Thank you for your email, too. What are you reading this weekend? Its so rainy here; I may rent a movie for tonight.

2:57 PM  
Blogger David said...

Beautiful, Amy. One thing that I love about you and your writing is that while so many curse the darkness, you are out there lighting a candle. Thank you so much. You only prove what you are writing... That art has a singular transformative power. Art is the manifestation of the soul and thus it is an ideal, putting it beyond specific categories like tragedy and comedy. (And yes, I know how dialectical those categories are.) Art uses everything and the only thing that it cannot do without is a soul. It needs a soul to exist. Art says the things we cannot say in any other way. And you dear, are an artist.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

Thursday:
I'm actually working this weekend. Must get overtime so I can pay off huge debts which have thrown me into the mire! JK
I'm not in a mire. I'm in a cube. haha

If all goes according to plan, I will start 'The Woman in White' this weekend. Or, I may try and finish that Playgirl article. haha (JK about Playgirl. I have not read that in my life.)
Have a good one!

4:19 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Don't even ask him why he has to see our young men die.
Does that make him so wrong?
Don't even ask him why he can't even seem to cry.
For the ones that are gone.

That comes from War- just my own junk - but I think I know what you are saying

4:48 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

David ~ Each time I receive a comment from you, I think about things in a better way. You are so right; art transcends all categories and motifs...in the end it is the simple reflection of a human spirit.

Marty ~ Oh no. You are working this weekend? I promise to sit on my couch an extra hour and flip channels just for you!

Barry ~ I know you know what I am talking about, and knowing that makes me feel better. Hope you are doing ok this weekend.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Well, Miss ThursdayNext, I jes' been ter see me ole' pappy...he said folks used ter say: "May you live in interesting times" ...but that it never was knowed if that be a blessing or a curse.

Thang is, chile', like birth and marriage, sunrise and sunset, anxiety over war, famine, plague, migration, persecution and all such is catalyst fer human introspection, thus givin' rise to introspection's expression --art, music, dance, film.

Enjoyed yer posts over at Mayden and K-9.

9:24 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Aunty Belle ~ How glad I am that you stopped by here. Oh how your words are so true and wise. If there is one thing that keeps me going these days, it is the creativity and expression of all of you here.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

have you read madeline d'engels' (sp?) "the ones who walk away from omelas?"

on some levels, it's a metanarrative, commenting on the conflict bias in art - can't have artistic expression without conflict- suffering on some scale - the conlfict is the focal point of the art.

that prof poses an intriguing question - one that artists grapple with to some extent - war, suffering, pain, - the catalyst for great art - but ...but... perhaps it's the audience's obsession, the audience's need as well - as art arises from human joy as well - but we, the community, the audience, are not in as great a need for a vehicle to express that joy, to understand that joy - we turn instead to our artists to help us express and understand the incomprehensible - war, death, suffering.

forgive me - i am rambling.

10:21 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Bird, you can always ramble here.

7:57 PM  

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