Thursday, 7 August 2008

What experience says...

I believe that E. Waugh the English novelist said something to the effect that he was glad he had not read Henry James in his youth. I totally agree with him and Dr Johnson who said that youth is wasted on the young - or so I believe.After watching a film about Shakespeare and the writing of the Sonnets I have re-visited them for the first time in a number of years and they not only speak to me they are shouting at me. I also have the same experiences with aspects of the Bible like Ruth and John and The Gospel of Thomas which I first read about twenty years ago. They are all full of things that make increasing sense with age.
I have read and enjoyed Shakespeare since I was about 13 and saw a school performance of scenes from Billy Spokeshake for about 4+ nights in a row. I had to be there as I was in the school choir who covered the scene changes with music but the more I saw the more I enjoyed.Similar issues relate to the Bible but that has come about through experience and having read broadly in other religions etc. just like the Shakespeare.Age has a great deal to say but we must remember that intellectually and spiritually we are not our chronological age in all things, like aspects of the body and sexuality grow at different rates.
As Wordsworth wrote in 2 poems:
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!
when speaking of the French Revolution but later he wrote:
For I have learnedTo look on nature, not as in the hourOf thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.

Age has its virtues. What we may lose one way we may gain greatly in others.
In Friendship


Heather said...

Thank you for this, Peter. It's something that doesn't stop, either - I have learned more in the last few years about myself and about the world than I did in the thirty-odd previously!

In Friendship, Heather

Anonymous said...

I dunno - I reckon there's nothing like reading/seeing things in childhood or youth, then going back to them over and over again throughout your life and taking something new, deeper, more profound each time. I'm glad I read Hamlet at 10 (not understanding most of it, but loving the language), saw it in the theatre at 11 (understanding another layer and being gripped by the language as it was spoken), then watching it on film several times since then, each time building on the last.

Each stage of life has its value :)

Gordon Ferguson said...

I first got this reading Yeats, and the profundity of that insight many years ago is still with me.
If we value knowledge over experience, then we will be deluded into thinking we 'know it' on first acquaintance. We will also have a rigid and deterministic understanding of the world and the language used to describe it.
Unfortunately the West does seem to value knowledge as primary, and the wonder and joy of childhood and youth is drummed out of us by so called 'education'. This is backed up by much of western religion - the evangelical Christianity I got sucked into insisted on unitary revelation of pre-defined and absolute truth. No growth there.

Now, Hamlet never ceases to amaze, and life and beauty crowd in and overwhelm. Revelation is continuous, and miracles happen daily. The best definition of good art that I know (literature, music, painting, sculpture - all of it), is that on reading/hearing/seeing it, you will want to come back to it - time and time again - because something in it captures you and tells you that herein are unplumbed depths.

"When you get free from certain fixed concepts of the way the world is, you find it is far more subtle, and far more miraculous, than you thought it was."