Illuminations: Passages for contemplation

I thought of collecting together some of the short passages that are given in the Illuminations book and creating a blog post around them. If you go through these stand-alone passages, some of them may strike you as meaningful or intriguing. If you have a discussion with another person (or persons) about the meaning of the passage(s) that struck you, some or all of the following may happen:

a. You may see that your perspective is different (sometimes radically) from the perspective of others.
b. You may notice how the meaning gets built up as the conversation proceeds. As if you are collaborating with the person(s) to build a common meaning.
c. You may notice that the passage served the purpose of starting the conversation but the collaborative meaning-making may take the conversation to a totally different place.
d. You may find the process joyful and exciting and it may open you up to many new insights.

Here are some of the passages. Give the process a try…

1. No poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the listener.

2. A bud unfolds into a blossom, but the boat which one teaches children to make by folding paper unfolds into a flat sheet of paper.

3. Comfort isolates; on the other hand, it brings those enjoying it closer to mechanization.

4. Beauty in its relationship to nature can be defined as that which “remains true to its essential nature only when veiled.”

5. One must work, if not from inclination at least from despair, since, as I have fully proved, to work is less wearisome than to amuse oneself.

6. Enthusiasm applied to things other than abstractions is a sign of weakness and disease.

7. Myth embodies the nearest approach to absolute truth that can be stated in words.

8. Association with human beings lures one into self observation.

9. Evil knows of the Good, but Good does not know of Evil.

10. Once, when Denys and I had been up, and were landing on the plain of the farm, a very old Kikuyu came up and talked to us:

“You were up very high to-day,” he said, “we could not see you, only hear the aeroplane sing like a bee.”

I agreed that we had been up high.

“Did you see God?” he asked.

“No, Ndwetti,” I said, “we did not see God.”

“Aha, then you were not up high enough,” he said, “but now tell me: do you think that you will be able to get up high enough to see him?”

“I do not know, Ndwetti,” I said.

“And you, Bedâr,” he said, turning to Denys, “what do you think? Will you get up high enough in your aeroplane to see God?”

“Really I do not know,” said Denys.

“Then,” said Ndwetti, “I do not know at all why you two go on flying.”

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