Lenten Observance: Day 23

Tao 45 & 46

45: Again more dichotomies — “True wisdom seems foolish.  True art seems artless.”  I have often heard it said about art that, if you cannot see the workings of the artist, then it is truly art.  And certainly Shakespeare doesn’t look like he worked up a sweat, nor does Homer, and I think that one might say something like this about Jackson Pollock — whose work doesn’t seem like much, until you try to imitate the work, and are unable to do so.  But there are artists where one can see the effort, and I still think the work in question qualifies as art — Joyce or Faulkner, for instance, or an artist like Ad Reinhardt, who tries to cover his tracks and “erase” his own hand, but that is clearly an affect.  I would still refer to their work as art.  Shostakovich also would seem to be such an artist, and even Beethoven, where Mozart makes it all seem effortless. 

Of course, the true master “shapes things as they come,” is in dialog with the world, rather than trying to control the art or narrative. 

46: “When a country is in harmony with the Tao, the factories make trucks and tractors.  When a country goes counter to the Tao, warheads are stockpiled outside cities.”  We live in the latter world, a world where politicians use fear to advance their own positions, and where people allow themselves to be led by such leaders.  There are parts of Kansas City that some people won’t travel to because they feel they will be victimized. I’ve been in most of those areas, and don’t see the danger.  And I see this sort of sentiment happen even in faith communities, where one group is afraid of letting another group speak, for fear of “heresy.”  And in giving in to such a fear, any bit of the truth that might be spoken by someone else is not heard, and one’s own vision of the truth becomes law;  that doesn’t make one’s own vision necessarily true.  I think we need to be honest with one another, and to share ideas.  Even when we do not agree does not make someone else wrong.  Fear can really warp a person.

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