The following poem was written by Thomas Merton to commemorate the beautiful act of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl, who, when she was dying as a consequence of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, spent her final days making hundreds of paper cranes, symbols of healing and peace.
How can we tell a paper bird
Is stronger than a hawk
When it has no metal for talons?
It needs no power to kill
Because it is not hungry.
Wilder and wiser than eagles
It ranges around the world
And free of cravings.
The child’s hand
Folding these wings
Wins no wars and ends them all.
Thoughts of a child’s heart
Without care, without weapons!
So the child’s eye
Gives life to what it loves
Kind as the innocent sun
And lovelier than all dragons!
Without the mystical, we are left without the full understanding or meaning that could exist. We can neither fully see, nor fully hear, the otherness of the divine without a fully developed sense for the mystical.
For the soul to grow beyond the verbal expressions of the mind, it must be bathed in the silence of God, wherein God speaks beyond words to reveal beauty to us.
In order for art to get beyond or behind [repressive] conventions of representation, in order to expose the ideology these conceptions serve, artworks should employ ‘dis-identificatory practices’ that disrupt ‘the dance of ideology,’ and ‘distanciation’ that would ‘liberate the viewer from the state of being captured by illusions of art which encourage passive identification with fictional worlds’.
Mira Schor, ‘Medusa Redux’, quoting Griselda Pollock, Vision and Difference
I was struck by these thoughts on perception and the enlargement of the spirit, which I came across in an article in the journal Arts: The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies (vol. 28, no. 1).
The world about us would be desolate except for the world within us.
Thus says Wallace Stevens in his article ‘Relations between Poetry and Painting’. He goes on to challenge us to embrace
the extension of the mind beyond the range of the mind, the projection of reality beyond reality, … the determination not to be confined, the recapture of excitement and intensity of interest, the enlargement of the spirit at every time, in every way.
Paul Klee, in ‘Creative Credo’, reminds us that:
art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.
And Robert Frost, ‘Education by Poetry: A Meditative Monologue’, insists that,
unless you have had your proper poetical education in the metaphor, you are not safe anywhere. Because you are not at ease with figurative values.
I love this artwork by Cory Dugan, which is part of a series of works, all of which explore the notion of hapax legomena, words that only feature once in a certain oeuvre. Dugan’s sources include John Donne’s Holy Sonnets, the works of William Shakespeare, the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament.