Noe Venable

Not into Common Sense but into Love- Bewilderment and the Life of Study

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013

Not into Common Sense but into Love- Bewilderment and the Life of Study

An essay written during my studies at Harvard Divinity School.

I am somewhere in Widener library, that same Widener library of dustless display cases and bronze founders overlooking a stately marble entranceway, but from here, the view is different. I am in a dense and airless space, an elevator, headed several stories underground to the Pusey library, apparently a sort of underground tomb connected to the main library by a web of catacombic tunnels. I am in search of a book. It is a testament to the scope of the Widener library, and also to the peculiar layout of the building, that I have been to the library three times so far to study, and this is the first time I’ve actually discovered where the books are. Unlike most libraries, in which the library collection is kept in the reading rooms, the books of Widener are kept in an entirely different portion of the building, a many-floored vault of stacks, all of which are accessed through a single room. But my book is even more deeply hidden, in the Pharaoh’s tomb at the heart of the pyramid. I watch the light signaling the floors go by as the elevator descends. I didn’t know Harvard went down so far. Does it? Feeling slightly claustrophobic, I have the sudden wild thought that I’m headed somewhere else, boring down through the place where Harvard ends– some place in space and in mind where my own thoughts of my studies meet the thoughts of the encompassing earth.

 

The elevator doors open, revealing a winding, windowless corridor through which I make my way, following maps on the wall with raised graphics for the blind, and the occasional red arrow proclaiming “Pusey!” Reaching my destination, I find it to be a vast though low-ceilinged room. There are too many books to allow them to all remain accessible at once, so the layout features motorized shelves, which mechanically part to reveal their holdings. Having found the right aisle, I press a red button and a corridor of folklore slides open before me. I see books of Latvian fairytales, books on witchcraft, tales of the Brothers Grimm. I wonder how long it has been since these shelves last slid open to admit a like-minded seeker. Running my fingers ancient spines, blood brown and green, I locate my book. Taking it from the shelf, however, I notice that my paper-writing sense of purpose has dimmed in the more immediate light of sensual experience—the smell of the books, the motion of the shelves, the overwhelming soundless song of three million volumes, any of which is made available at the mere pressing of a button.

 

For the first time in a while, I seem to have forgotten how busy I am. I’m not sure exactly where I am or what time it is, and in not knowing, I feel a strange sense of joy. I remember curiosity, I experience it as though curiosity has remembered me. It is the same feeling I once had as a child finding a piece of beach glass on the shore, feeling its edge worn softness, almost peach like. Wondering where it had come from, imagining the process that had formed it, this bottle made by a human being, filled, emptied, used up, shattered, rolled by the grinding teeth of oceans. For a moment I am able to see these books in the same light, as marked by the process that has made them, the many hands that have touched them, the men and women who wrote them. Three million books waiting in the stacks or here, underground. To each one, months or years of human thought dedicated. Each author, driven by his or her own interest or compulsion, every author looking for something through the wilderness of thought and experience—this seeking—a process which is constant, which continues here in me, standing bewildered, forgetting my intention in a momentary over layering of times.

 

The search for meaning—a habit in which we persist, those of us who can seem to value nothing else quite so certainly– this is what brought me to divinity school, and yet, since coming here, I have grappled with the problem of how to engage authentically in a process of questioning while at the same time producing tangible, measurable results by prescribed deadlines. Too often in the face of this pressure, I am sad to admit, I have settled for shutting off those more inquisitive and ambling mental processes and found myself working instead with the will, a joyless pursuit. As Simone Weil points out, “will power has practically no place in study. The intelligence can only be led by desire. For there to be desire, there must be pleasure and joy in the work.” (Weil, Simone. Waiting for God. p 61.) Intelligence, as Weil points out, is not cultivated by the exhausting exertion which feels miserable but which leads us afterwards to say, with self-satisfaction, “I have worked well.” (Ibid, ibid. p 61.) By such exertion one may fulfill the requirements of the assignment, but one may have in fact have evaded any meaningful encounter with the material being studied. Without this experience of encounter, it seems, our gains our illusory. We have conquered and moved on; we will forget the trees because while we have named them, we have perhaps not ever really seen them. We may think we have gotten bigger, but we have not changed.

 

Part of the challenge seems to lie in the way education is commonly defined. My dictionary defines it thus: “the imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning, especially at a school or similar institution.” (Encarta Word English Dictionary.) Naturally, to understand education in this way means that the emphasis is placed upon knowledge as that which can be acquired—obtained, and ultimately possessed. No surprise then that its means are understood solely in terms of its ends: education as a process of acquisition. The student’s success is generally measured in terms of how much knowledge she has been able to acquire and how cogently she is able to express and support her own assertions based on that knowledge. But of course education is so much more than this, and it’s interesting to notice how much of this “more” is comprised of modes of thinking and being which transcend measurement.

 

Perhaps, although we tend to understand education in terms of how much one knows, the road by which one finds the spiritual in the life of study lies in the recognizing the role of not-knowing in the process of learning. For if education is on the one hand a process of gaining knowledge, it is also a process which entails perpetual, deliberate, probing work at that threshold of the unknown. On the one hand, this may take the form of a relatively orderly process, as the physical symbols of my academic life here might suggest– the quiet desk, the cup of tea, the daily practices of writing and reading. By orderly, I mean quiet, and also directional. However present I may be in a given moment, my work within that moment nonetheless occurs within the framework of a larger sense of purpose, which I construe as spiritual, but which represents movement along the well lit thoroughfare of academia, in which hard work leads to degrees which one hopes lead to wider opportunities.

 

Amidst the fairly directed process of this work, my experience in the library was one of disorientation. For a moment, it seemed, I left the road, put away the map, and really experienced where I was. Interestingly, I experienced this loss of bearings with great relief. Exhaustion from the journey gave way to joy in the moment, and ultimately to a renewed sense of purpose, experienced as something naturally welling up from within, rather than something to be mustered. In considering the apparent relationship between momentary directionless-ness and joy, I found my thoughts returning to Fanny Howe’s essay, Bewilderment, in The Wedding Dress. What, I began to wonder, might be the role of bewilderment in the life of study? To approach the life of study as a spiritual endeavor seems to require a mind which is open, present, curious, uncertain. Might the discovery of a spiritual dimension within the life of study have something to do with opening ourselves up to the experience of bewilderment?

 

In this essay, I engage the above questions, exploring the phenomenon of bewilderment as evoked by Fanny Howe. I will begin by identifying some of the hallmarks of bewilderment as a way of life. Then, I will look at bewilderment in regards to the life of study. I will begin by arguing that there is indeed a wisdom in bewilderment for the person pursuing the academic life, identifying two relevant parallels. First, like the bewildered work of the poet, the spiritual work of the scholar entails that she learn to hold ambiguity and enter willingly into perplexity. Second, also like the poet, the scholar who views her studies in light of the spiritual must eschew the mindset of grasping after goals in order to be present in the moment, a state of mind conducive to the kind of free associative and nonlinear thinking which can often rejuvenate thought with a fresh perspective.

 

After examining these ways in which aspects of bewilderment might be brought to bear upon academic life, I will consider Howe’s essay in another light, examining the ways in which Howe’s bewilderment seems to be in tension with the life of study. In this section of my paper, I will identify Howe’s bewilderment as a form of ecstasy which thus blurs any transitive process, such as study, into indistinction. I will suggest that Howe’s essay is therefore reactive—while it celebrates bewilderment, it leaves less room for sense making. Education, I will ultimately argue, is a process which depends upon a person’s capacity to embrace and move in and out of both of these states.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . What is bewilderment? . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

“What I have been thinking about lately is bewilderment as a way of entering the day as much as the work,” writes Fanny Howe. (Howe, Fanny. The Wedding Dress. p 5.) Howe construes bewilderment as a method of working, a way of life, even a framework for thought, “bewilderment as a poetics and a politics.” (Ibid. Ibid. p 5.) It is a loss of bearings, a sense of disorientation, “a complete failure in the magnet, the compass, the scale, the stars, and the movement of the rivers.” (Ibid. Ibid. p 15.) But all of these words define bewilderment only for what it is not—what is “failing”, what is “being lost”. It is not knowing where one is. It is not possessing any viable set of directions. What, then, is it?

 

Bewilderment: the word itself contains the word “wild,” something untamed, a wolf perhaps, lopes through it. Inhabited by this shadowy living thing, bewilderment evokes its correlating environment—wilderness. Gary Snyder devotes considerable attention to the concept of wilderness in his book, The Practice of Wild, offering the following definition of wilderness, based on the Oxford English Dictionary.

 

 

Wilderness

 

1. A large area of wild land, with original vegetation and wildlife, ranging from dense jungle or rainforest to arctic or alpine “white wilderness.”

 

2. A wasteland, as an area unused or useless for agriculture or pasture

 

3. A space of sea or air, as in Shakespeare, “I stand as one upon a Rock, environ’d with a Wilderness of Sea” (Titus Andronicus). The oceans.

 

4. A place of danger and difficulty: where you take your own chances, depend on your own skills, and do not count on rescue.

 

5. This world as contrasted with heaven. “I walked through the wildernesse of this world.” (Pilgrim’s Progress).

 

6. A place of abundance, as in John Milton, “a wildernesse of sweets.” (Snyder, Gary The Practice of the Wild, p 12.)

 

This definition reveals the word “wilderness” in its multivalence, intimating both danger and potentiality, abundance and waste, fright and freedom. It is a place of fecundity, proliferation, and decay, a vast and crawling space, a place where we are not at home, where we become lost, where maps no longer apply.

 

However, bewilderment, Howe would have us know, is yet more bewildering even than this. “The wilderness as a metaphor in this case is not evocative enough,” she says, because bewilderment is “more catastrophic than getting lost in the woods. Bewilderment is an enchantment that follows a complete collapse of reference and reconcilability.” (The Wedding Dress. p 15.) Bewilderment is rapture in the face of paradox. This rapture is not merely passivity and surrender; like wilderness, it is also a place of beginnings, it is rife with possibility. For example, as a writer of fiction and poetry, Howe recognizes that amongst her characters, “error, errancy, and bewilderment are the main forces that signal a story.” Therefore, “catastrophic” as it may be, the experience of bewilderment is one which Howe humbly professes to crave. Pointing out that there is a Muslim prayer that says “Lord, increase my bewilderment,” she adds “this prayer is both mine and the strange Whoever who goes under the name of “I” in my poems.” Thus, we add to our understandings of the word so far, bewilderment: an unlikely state of grace. An attitude to be accepted, even cherished. And yet, “more than an attitude”: “an actual approach, a way—to settle with the unresolvable.” Bewilderment as somehow directed. Bewilderment as a path, a road.

 

Howe goes to greater lengths to describe the “way” of bewilderment. As mental processes go, Howe suggests, it is perhaps closest to the experience of dreaming. That is, though a “way” and an “approach,” this way of thinking is simultaneously undirected and ultimately defies rational understanding. It is not linear, not characterized by forward motion. It wanders, it doesn’t have to make sense. It is feckless, or at least unrestrained. “A dream hesitates, it doesn’t grasp, it stands back, it jokes, it makes itself scared, it circles and it fizzles.” It doesn’t care about results, it “undermines the narratives of power and winning.” It might not say yes or no but instead nod and shake its head both at the same time because the dream’s understanding of reality transcends the grid of binary opposition. It is both inside and outside, subject and object. It dwells in paradox. “It is at once dazzled and horrified.” It chews its tail, it argues with itself, it “breaks into parts and contradicts its own will, even as it travels around and around.”

 

Howe’s writing is fragmented, poetic, at times almost anarchistic. But this, it seems to me, is her art—in the spirit of bewilderment, she aims to bewilder, to startle us with the grace and fragility of human expression. She writes, “Just as language evolves with increasing specificity, breaking further and further into qualifying parts, so words, as weak as birds, survive because they move collectively and restlessly, as if under siege.” Howe’s voice in this essay evokes a world in constant motion. Thoughts loop back over one another or, through a secret window, discover a new vista, as when Howe draws a connection between the gold of the touch of King Midas and the gilding touch of light.

 

“I remember that when I read this story as a child I already knew that there was a thin coating of gold on all objects. Whether the light was from the sun, or from an artificial bulb, there was always gold filtering over everything. So when I read about Midas touching his daughter, their roses, the water in the fountain, and the servants—and watching each one go solid—I felt that the potential had been there all along.”

 

The capacity to recognize such parallels defies the conventional language of logical argument. Superceded by the bewildered logic of poetry, linear logic is rendered impotent in a mind where timelessness reigns. If sense is made, it is more likely through moving in circles. “For me,” says Howe, “bewilderment is like a dream: one continually returning pause on a gyre and in both my stories and my poems it could be the shape of the spiral that imprints itself in my interior before anything emerges on paper.” Imprinted with this spiral, this sense of meaning as a slow reveal through infinite return, Howe identifies herself as a seeker whose journey lacks an obvious direction. “For to the spiral-walker there is no plain path,” she writes, “no up and down, no inside or outside. But there are strange returns and recognitions and never a conclusion.”

 

While some might fear such a loss of obvious bearings, Howe embraces it here with rapturous surrender, and calls us in to meet her. Howe’s essay has bewitched me; as a poet, I want to enter it. But how does this “way of life” apply to academic life? For weeks now, considering this question, it seems that I have been inside Howe’s wilderness, observing its beasts, hunting amidst its roots, turning over its stones, in an attempt to enumerate the currents within it which relate to finding the spiritual within the life of study.

 

I will here explore two such currents, as well as the tensions they raise.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . Common Currents . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

First of all, within academic life, and in particular the academic study of religions, one faces many doors which open onto paradox. The study of religions can be a spiritual exercise in holding and considering ambiguity, because it repeatedly invites us to engage questions for which there are no absolute answers. This once seemed to me an intimidating prospect. However, my feeling of intimidation gave way to a kind of relief as I slowly grew to embrace the process of questioning itself. Like a traveler entering a wilderness, the meaning lay, somehow, in the journey. Like a tracker stalking animals through a snowy expanse, the reader tracks words across a page. (Abram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous. p 96.) Scribbling notes, she leaves tracks of her own. The spiritual is less apparent in the tracks, she notices afterward, more so in the walking, a movement through and into the unknown. For the unknown (the unread book or the unwritten paper) is also the Unknown. In addressing one, one addresses the other. The most eloquent form of address here is, perhaps, a question, without expectation of answer– a question posed with humility and patience. Like the “human heart . . . in a state of bewilderment,” the scholar of religions may come to discover that she “doesn’t want to answer questions so much as to lengthen the resonance of those questions.” Academia, at its most fulfilling, might represent a chamber in which such questions could be allowed to echo, or, to use Howe’s image, a “maze or spiral” which has “aesthetic value since they are constructed for others—places to learn about perplexity and loss of bearing.” It is a compelling prospect—to enter a place which affords the opportunity to wrestle with, consider, or simply relate to ambiguity. “In the Messianic age,” Howe quotes a kabalistic rabbi as saying, “people will no longer quarrel with others but only with themselves,” then adds “this is what poets are doing already.” So too, it seems, with the scholar of religions.

 

At the same time, in considering the life of study, it is clear that while questions fuel the process of inquiry, they do not describe the full extent of that process. One is not in school only to question, but also to learn to think critically, and ultimately to present an argument within a format that is somewhat limited in comparison to the myriad potential structures available to the poet. Ultimately, it seems, while a project such as the writing of a paper may be undertaken in a spirit of bewilderment, the finished work must not only emerge from the maze, but must also be able to describe the way it took to get out. It must come out, brush itself off, make itself sensible. The paper is not the poem.

 

A second parallel between bewilderment and the life of study becomes apparent in regard to the issues of time and grasping. A challenging school demands rigorous work toward the completion of particular projects with particular deadlines, the awareness of which has a way of pulling one out of the present moment and turning one’s anxious attentions toward the future. It is thus easy to slip into a mindset of grasping, minds reaching ahead in a vain attempt to speed up the process of thought which leads to synthesis. Grasping is, of course, the antithesis of thoughtful reflection. Thought must remain attentive to the present moment, so that thoughts of past and future sink beneath the “sliding surface of the present.” (Woolf, Virginia. Moments of Being. p 98.) This is the state in which we truly encounter our work, rather than simply trying to conquer it. As Simone Weil writes, “our thought should be in relation to all particular and already formulated thoughts, as a man on a mountain who, as he looks forward, sees also below him, without actually looking at them, a great many forests and plains. Above all, our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object that is to penetrate it.” (Weil, Simone. Waiting for God. p 62.)

 

Like Weil’s man on a mountain, Howe’s bewilderment stands as an antithesis to grasping. The soul in bewilderment, like the dream, “does not grasp.” Bewilderment defies deadlines and clock time because it doesn’t perceive itself to be moving forward. Instead, it circumnavigates. The person in bewilderment is “turning in a circle and keeps passing herself on her way around, her former self, her later self, and the trace of this passage is marked by a rhyme, a coded message for “I have been here before, I will return.”

 

Such non-linear thinking, marked by surprising recognitions and returns, characterized by moments which “rhyme,” seems to lie at the root of the bold metaphorical leaps that characterize Howe’s writing in this essay. “A liar can reproduce the feeling that a wilderness does,” she writes. In regards to the life of study, I am reminded of the revitalizing potential of gaining a fresh perspective on one’s work, which seems so often to correspond with stepping off the straight ahead path of willful pursuit with expectation of fulfillment. For example, a friend who is a mathematician recently described to me how he approaches problem that has stumped him. “There comes a time in the process of solving a particularly difficult problem,” he told me, “when no amount of mental exertion will reveal the right way through it. I used to drive myself absolutely crazy trying to push through these moments. But these days I have a new approach.” What he learned to do was to set down his pencil and go out to his garden. There, he would walk in slow circles, calling his mind off consideration of the problem and focusing instead on the hum of bees in flowers. Or else he would lie down in the sunlight, close his eyes and feel the soft breezes on his face. Here the solution would inevitably find him, and he would return to work reinvigorated.

 

What had happened in this moment? In working willfully, my friend had presumably stopped thinking and had instead begun the self-conscious action of trying to think, which he experienced as “driving himself crazy”. By stepping out into the garden, he in effect surrendered, giving in to his bewilderment. By embracing bewilderment, he also released his awareness of linear time, the sense of the passage of which no doubt had convinced him that it was necessary to “try to think” even when thought had ceased to occur. In entering the sunny afternoon, he in effect invited himself into the present moment. This was the place from which new knowing could emerge.

 

In presence, we consistently discover wisdom inaccessible to the soul whose eyes are fixed on the clock. As Howe writes in her characteristically enigmatic language: “a bloom is not a parade.” If this assertion bewilders us, it is perhaps a better description than most of the relationship between the present and the timeline which is mistaken to contain it. The reality is bewildering. The bloom is the present moment, it does not exist in sequence. The two represent two different realities, two different ways of seeing. Bewilderment eschews the logic of parade to see life through the glasses of bloom. Perhaps it is this change of lenses which allows us, in academic work, to at last make the leap between what we know and what we do not yet—to approach a problem afresh.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . Tension . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

As I have suggested, Howe’s suggestion of bewilderment as a way of entering the day and the work does offer some wisdom relevant to the life of study. It is both possible and compelling to approach the essay in such a way as to tease out these pertinent strands and to apply them, which is what I have here tried to do. However, viewing these currents in terms of the essay as a whole, it seems that any recognition of such pertinence needs to be juxtaposed with a recognition of an inherent tension. In order to investigate the nature of this tension, I think it may be useful to first describe how I became aware of it.

 

Following the experience in the library, I knew that I wanted to write about bewilderment, because Howe’s essay had enticed me. I sensed a mystery in it, something incomprehensible. Also an energy—a charge and a restlessness to which I relate. Although it was an essay about writing, it inspired me to think about the life of study, how every day represents a potential confrontation with the unknown. I generally experience the unknown with some trepidation. The blank page, in particular, sometimes fills me with no small amount of anxiety. Meanwhile, Howe describes a phenomenon which is wilder than unknowing—bewilderment, and yet she experiences or professes to experience this phenomenon in a spirit of rapturous surrender. Clearly, there was something here. I began to write, first trying to unwrap just what, precisely, bewilderment was. Then I began to explore bewilderment in regards to the life of study. I had drawn many parallels, which I planned to enumerate.

 

Strangely, I initially found that I could not. The parallels which I had sensed seemed to crumble like walls as I built them. I was trying to write on one end, and watching nothingness devour what I created at the other. It wasn’t that the parallels I had selected didn’t hold true. They did, and stepping back I could see this. But in order to meet Fanny where she was with bewilderment, I seemed to have to leave other ways of thinking behind. And while with enough distance my mind could see that there was, in some way, a need for more room for “bewilderment” in education, I became increasingly aware that I was nonetheless experiencing these two ideas in profound tension.

Gradually, this sense of conflict gave way to seeing the essay with new eyes, to recognize that as captivating as Howe’s bewilderment may be, as much as one wants to enter it, one must likewise recognize that Howe is not writing about a state of being that fits neatly into a life or into an argument for that matter. I began to think back on her imagery, a few of the lines I had not at that point chosen for inclusion in this essay: “Time and narrative,” she says is “dizzying and repetitive,” like the dance of the dervish. This is when it struck me that Howe’s writing in the essay is likewise a form of whirling. Her bewilderment, as “a rapture,” is in fact a state of ecstasy. But Howe is not only writing about ecstasy, she seems, in writing, to be speaking from it.

 

Ecstasy. This, I am quite sure looking back, is what drew me. But ecstasy has a way of obstructing “study.” Consider Howe’s description—“the whirling that is central to bewilderment is a . . . dissolving of particularities into one solid braid of sound.” Ecstasy blurs distinction into unity. To “study,” on the other hand, necessarily implies an other. There is an encounter between the scholar and a given material, a book or idea. In ecstasy, on the other hand, including the ecstasy of bewilderment, the subject / object division has been transcended. The unity achieved may be the collective motion of a dance in unison, or even in the many physiological systems that move the ecstatic body, or it may take the form of a bewildering blur of unrecognized metal and physical landmarks, as in the case of bewilderment. In either case, it implies a complete loss of the known, because with no “I” and “you,” “knowing” is impossible. To know requires a subject and an object. To whirl obliterates all distinction.

 

I had set out with the dream of a braid in which bewilderment might be woven into the life of study in some way that would reveal new meaning in both things. Instead, (and perhaps not surprisingly, considering the topic!) I had found my way into a conundrum. The poet and the mystic must do many things in order to live in this world, but in order to do their work, they must set up shop in the wilderness of bewilderment. The scholar may experience bewilderment, but her work also consists of moving through it, of making sense of things. Meanwhile, Howe asserts that bewilderment will “never lead you back into common sense, but will offer you a walk into a further wild place on ‘the threshold of love’s sanctuary which lies above that of reason.’” Bewilderment leads not into sense but into love. Perhaps this is a perfect description of that which draws us on, that restlessness which fuels our desire, whether our passion is for poetry, writing or study. Perhaps this is what it means to approach our studies with the “heave, thrill, and murmur of the nomadic heart ”—that we try to make sense, but recognize that no sense made represents and end to the journey, which leads from confusion / curiosity, into knowing, and then back into uncertainty again.

 

Bewilderment as the ground to which knowing will return?

 

Bewilderment as both the fertile seed bed and the grave bed of knowing?

 

Then again, on yet further consideration, perhaps the relationship between bewilderment and sense making relates as much to Howe as it does to the life of study. For in her essay on bewilderment, Howe somehow makes sense of bewilderment, perhaps to draw us close to her own engine of creation. But I think her essay is about more than this. It is also an assertion of freedom, a manifesto sparking and vehement, the mantra of an artist who shakes off containment like “water drops off a dog.” Howe sends up a signal as if wanting to make contact, but informs us that “a signal does not necessarily mean that you want to be located or described. It can mean that you want to be known as Unlocatable and Hidden.” The essay is not only perplexed, it is perplexing. It celebrates un-graspingness while at the same time asserting that it cannot be grasped. What is Howe shaking free from? What is this essay defying?

 

The rest of the book offers a clue, for many of the other essays reveal a different side of Howe. She is not just a lyric poet, she is also a woman capable of nuanced literary, philosophical, social and self – analysis. The comparison between the poetic voice Howe adopts in this essay and the more straightforward tone taken in other essays in this book reflects the very distinction I have identified between the way of bewilderment and the life of study. Perhaps the reason it’s difficult to apply Howe’s essay to the life of study is that one of the things it represents is Howe’s attempt to shake free of any means of thinking that is not poetry, anything that would restrain her subtle and bewildered art. Perhaps Howe, like all of us, has to compromise, or perhaps, like many of us, she in fact values both—the slide into rapture and the calm walk along the path of slowly making sense.

–NV 2008

 

Bibliography

Abram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous. (New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1996)

Howe, Fanny. The Wedding Dress. (Berkeley, California: University of Berkeley Press, 2003)

Snyder, Gary. The Practice of the Wild. (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1990)

Weil, Simone. Waiting for God. (New York: Perennial Classics, 2001)

Woolf, Virginia. Moments of Being. (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 1985)

 

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