So, I had a couple posts worked up to a nice frothy lather but decided they weren't going anywhere. That's probably for the best, I think.
Also, too, I'd decided to make a half-assed closing to my Group Dynamics series, as I just kind of ran out of steam on the idea and wasn't expressing what I wanted to express in any sort of serious way. It kept descending into polemics and the concrete, which was more-or-less the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. I mean, yes, sometimes the concrete is necessary, but oftentimes the concrete gets in the way of the things that actually matter.
And so but anyway, I've finally (FINALLY!) gotten around to reading seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees, Lawrence Weschler's luminous biography of Robert Irwin. Irwin has focused his entire career on questions of perception and presence and removing the image from art in order to leave only the interaction between the art and the self.
As it happens, sometimes I find myself reading the exact right thing for the exact right moment in time. Were I still a Christian I would call it providence. These days, though, I just call it "convergence," that wonderful term of art given me by Lawrence Weschler himself. Either way, I found myself trying to figure out if there was any way that I, as a writer, could make use of Robert Irwin's ideas and lessons. I was confounded by the question, but did realize that he provided an answer of another sort to a different question, specifically the question of why I saw such great convergence between the Christianity I'd departed and the atheism from which I am beginning my departure.
Anyway, amongst its many brilliant lines, Weschler's book contains this quote from Robert Irwin:
After the Whitney, I might have just disappeared, and in a way that would have been nice. But as it turns out, I couldn't. And maybe it's for the same reason I've never been comfortable with the argument from certain spiritual quarters about enlightenment. I don't doubt that those people devoted to Zen and yoga, the krishnas and all of them, do attain an altered state of consciousness, that they are in a different place, and in a sense a nicer place. But this is not an enlightened world. And the world always draws you back. [emphasis his]
To put it in a different way, it's easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain.
This brings me back to the old conversations we used to have on retreats and missions trips about "mountaintop experiences" and trying to bring those moments back to school and work and reality.
Somewhere in there, too, is Martin Buber and the I and Thou, the removal of the space between you and me for those transient, transcendent moments.
For a moment, though, we can unfocus, because in looking at we're really looking for. Sometimes it's best to just perceive.
And in that moment I realized what I want to say about group dynamics. Hopefully I'll be able to articulate it in a way that makes even a tiny modicum of sense.