More thoughts on "visionariness" (see previous post). Awkward word, I guess : there's probably a better one...

Differing views on the relation between "this world" and some future world beyond probably signal some kind of hard-to-resolve crux or problem, such that the human imagination wavers between its opposing sides. The ancient Jewish sect of Sadduccees, for example (along with Stoics, Epicureans, many others of various faiths & philosophies), rejected the concept of the resurrection of the dead, while the Pharisees affirmed it. Proust wrote somewhere that "the only Paradise is Paradise lost". Freud & psychology attempt to liberate us from faith in our own wishful thinking, our "illusions" of omnipotence or eternal life, by translating them into effects of the psyche - signs of inner conflicts & desires we must try to resolve or bring to awareness (in order to find happiness through adjustment to the disenchanting truth).

This oscillation between commitment to a stoic/epicurean worldiness vs. platonic/religious other-worldliness surfaced in the polemical debate between Russian Symbolism and Acmeism, in the early years of the 20th century. Gumilov, Mandelstam, Akhmatova & their circle formulated an argument opposing the vague otherworldly mysticism of the Symbolists, on behalf of a resolute, craft-oriented acceptance of the known "four dimensions", and the beauty/vitality of this world.

In the reading I've been doing about Joachim of Fiore, Bonaventure, etc., a similar oscillation comes to the fore. There is a shift toward (or return to) a notion of divine Providence which included the redemption of this world, in history : paradoxically drawing Christian theology slightly closer to the Jewish conception of world history as the drama of God's salvific acts in this world as well as for eternity (on this see Robert Lerner, The Feast of Saint Abraham, Univ. PA Press, 2001, as well as Joseph Ratzinger's monograph on Bonaventure's theology of history, noted here previously).

I guess in my own thinking, and in this ongoing poem project, I'm not coming down firmly (not yet anyway) on one "side" or another. It's all so fundamentally subtle & mysterious! I favor a notion of purpose in history, or "providence", as opposed to a purely subjective or individualistic concept of reality; as Martin Luther King put it, we are involved in a "web of mutuality". I give weight to the visionary/prophetic imagination, which asserts some mysterious mingling of two realms - earthly and "heavenly" - both now and (even more so) in the future. But most of all - and this is how I provisionally resolve these mysteries - I accept the analogy between the universe - nature itself - and a work of art.

When I think of the work of art, I think of a kind of beauty which depends on both an equilibrium/proportion of the whole, and on an intense, affectionate perception of, and care for, the particular and partial things and creatures contained in within it. Thus I can imagine a Creator who does not show his/her hand about eternal life and resurrection : does not make it plain. This artist-creator only hints at such. And why? Because this creator gives priority to the limited, mortal, and diverse particulars - to the play of time and space in all its strangeness, splendor and pathos. As Mandelstam put it : the artist plays hide & seek with God.

This notion of hiddenness (ars est celare artem) and resurrection reminds me most of all of : Vladimir Nabokov.

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