Saturday, July 11, 2009

What It's All About

"Poetry awakens and enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought. Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar; it reproduces all that it represents, and the impersonations clothed in its Elysian light stand thenceforward in the minds of those who have once contemplated them, as memorials of that gentle and exalted content which extends itself over all thoughts and actions with which it coexists." - Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry

Be the combination good or bad, I am a chronic daydreamer with an insatiable appetite for good literature. In most of both the poetry and prose that I read (unless it's extraordinarily lifeless) there is some point where I find that Shelley's theory plays out - I find myself confronting "a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought". Thoughts soar out of the writing and above everyday reality - or unexpectedly connect to it - and I find myself thinking higher and deeper and broader even than the words at face value seem to allow.

But Shelley's word choice clarifies my dilemma - as I move through a piece, the new and invigorating combinations of thought tend to be passed over "unapprehended". Because I enjoy those new combinations that pop into my head as I read, I have wished for a good while to find some way to explore at least a small portion of these unexpected connections and inspirations a bit further. Or, as the rather unoriginal title of my blog indicates, I wish to pause for a few moments and simply"muse" over them. I began keeping a quote journal for this purpose, but I soon realized that while copying a quote is a useful organizational tool, the most it can do is keep readily accessible the material for my musings. I thought about using my personal journal. However, I soon realized that I loved sharing my musings with others. My good friends and my mom assure me that they enjoy listening to me talk about what goes on in my head. Funny, though, every now and then when I'm musing aloud to someone, I get this inexplicable warning that flashes in my head: "Shut up now! Shut up now!" I could be wrong, but sometimes even my loyal mother's eyes seem to wander around the room while I'm talking. At the very least then, a blog provides a place where I can conveniently and un-self-consciously share my musings, and my audience can conveniently and inoffensively not listen.

I sometimes refer to my thought process as I read a book "philosophizing" - but that is without a doubt too high a title for what actually occurs. There is nothing systematic to my musings, and I am fully enjoying the opportunity to stubbornly refuse to be systematic by beginning this blog. Therefore, at least in relation to this blog, I place on myself no rules, and I set myself no goals. I wish to allow myself the freedom to change both my style and my opinions - which changes hopefully correspond with maturity both as a writer and a person. Sounds a bit like "Whatever will be, will be," and that's because... it is. Perhaps this is whole thing just amounts to a cautious, introverted English major's humorously pathetic attempt at rebelliousness. (Theses and five-paragraph papers and intros and conclusions be gone!)

What I write may or may not have anything to do with the work from which the particular quote I am reflecting on is taken. There is a place for book reviews and a place for scholarly study of books, and I enjoy doing and reading both; this blog, however, is not that place. The only focus, if I may call an intentional lack of focus such, is whatever "unapprehended combinations of thought" the literature I am reading may trigger.

Some of you may be wondering if this is a "Christian" blog. I have no intention of focusing exclusively on the relation between my faith and my reading, nor do I have any intention of purposefully excluding it. I feel no need of doing either, as I wish this blog simply to be a tool to enable me to explore further some of those thoughts my reading has triggered and a forum through which others who are interested can... I'm not sure. Perhaps I'll let whatever readers I have decide what they "can". However, if "Christian" defines both who and what a person is, Christianity will inevitably infiltrate, or rather permeate everything that person does. I must leave it up to another judge to determine if Christ permeates my own work, although it is my own sincere prayer that He does.

I could write an entire book on my theory of quality literature, its proper effect, and the means by which it produces that effect. Perhaps fortunately for everyone involved, that task, however, has already been done. I highly recommend to any interested parties both Mr. Shelley's entire Defence, and Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.