Auden Explains Poetry, Propaganda, And Reporting


“Poetry is speech at its most personal, the most intimate of dialogues. A poem does not come to life until a reader makes his response to the words written by the poet.

“Propaganda is a monologue which seeks not a response but an echo. To recognize this is not to condemn all propaganda as such. Propaganda is a necessity of all human social life. But to fail to recognize the difference between poetry and propaganda does untold mischief to both: poetry loses its value and propaganda its effectiveness.

“Whatever real social evil exists, poetry, or any of the arts for that matter, is useless as a weapon. Aside from direct political action, the only weapon is factual reportage—photographs, statistics, eyewitness reports.”

—W.H. Auden, in “A Short Defense of Poetry,” an address given at the International PEN Conference in Budapest, October 1967

Image-Making, Image-Using


“We are far more image-making and image-using creatures than we usually think ourselves to be.” — Richard Niebuhr

Found here.

Charles Williams on Dogma


Charles Williams, one of the Inklings, wrote in an essay passage about religious dramatists:

“They might, in fact, take up the business of defining, with intense excitement, the nature, habits and mode of operation of Almighty Love, infusing into their excitement a proper skepticism as to its existence at all. It is not dogma that creates narrowness; it is the inability to ask an infinite number of questions about dogma.” (emphasis added)

That excerpt was quoted by W.H. Auden in his review of Williams’s posthumous collection The Image of the City and Other Essays, selected by Anne Ridler. Auden’s review of The Image of the City appeared in the January 31, 1959, issue of National Review.

The Late Pat Conroy on God & the Inklings


Margaret Evans, writer and editorial assistant to the late novelist Pat Conroy, within her column “That’s So Conroy:”

Did you know Pat had lately become enamored of fantasy fiction? He was fanatical about George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series, and compared Martin to Shakespeare. He had also discovered C.S. Lewis late in life, and was so enthusiastic about him – and his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien – that he ran the idea by me, about a year ago, of getting a group together to travel to an Inklings weekend in Black Mountain, NC. (How I wish we’d done it.)

You might not know that Pat was very interested in God. Though he didn’t go to church much, he still considered himself Catholic, and he wrestled mightily. During our chats about the Inklings, he once told me he wished he had a writers’ group like that of his own. “Wouldn’t it be great?” he said. “For those guys, the question of God was always on the table. Maybe you struggled with the idea of God. Maybe you rejected it altogether. But the question was always on the table. It mattered, and it mattered a lot. So many writers I know today don’t even address the question. They’re not even God-curious. I still think that’s the difference between a great writer and a merely good writer. Great writers – whether they’re believers or not – are God-haunted.”

Pat Conroy was God-haunted. Maybe you didn’t know….

While out walking in the Cypress Wetlands last week – thinking about Pat, and how he adored this season – a cardinal zoomed across my path at warp speed, eye level, so close to my face I felt the wind on my cheek and heard its whoosh. His feathers may even have brushed my sunglasses; I’m still not sure. It was all so swift and sudden, so frightening and wondrous, I was left shaking as I watched the red bird disappear into the rookery.

They say a cardinal encounter is a visitation from a loved one who has passed….

 

Reality Check


More Santayana:

“Reality is more fluid and elusive than reason, and has, as it were, more dimensions than are known even to the latest geometry.” — George Santayana, in The Sense of Beauty

Words


“No word has the exact value of any other in the same or in another language.” — George Santayana, in The Sense of Beauty

10-Year-Old Daughter At the Home-School Co-Op Embarrasses Dad


A couple of weeks ago, I’m told, my 10-year-old daughter was drinking some Coca-Cola—maybe guzzling is the right word—at the Christian home-school co-op she attends once a week. One of the Moms commented on my daughter’s ability to drink Coke so quickly. My daughter said she likes a strong lemon soda at Starbucks, suggesting she’s used to having her throat stung by carbonation and intense flavors. Then my kid added, “I’ll be great at taking shots when I’m older.”