Beauty is Fitting in the Art of One to Many LO22447
Sun, 15 Aug 1999 05:50:02 EDT

Dear Learners,

"Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure
harmony and music inside me. -And my mind is driven towards these things
with an irresistible momentum."

Vincent van Gogh
Letter 218
21 July 1882

About two months ago I was meandering in the University Parks trying to
negotiate my way through to the old part of the City. It is a most
beautiful way because it takes you through water meadows, past and over
the river Cherwell, and by a cascading 'water race' where one can talk and
listen with the many wild birds, stroke the flanks and foreheads of ponies
and the cattle that wander around untethered.

I was anyway walking like a 'drunken' man because I was also engrossed in
a book. (Oxford has disproportionately many alcoholics -down and outs-
living within its walls. Sometimes I see them out of the 'corner of my
eye', being fearful of looking too directly into their faces that are
often bruised and battered, one may see many things out of the corner of
one's eye -- but that is another matter.)

Into the corner of my eye (at the edge of my personal field of vision)
strode a young, fit and thoroughly upright American academic. "Hi, I
wonder- could you tell me if this is the way to get to the Bodlean
Library?" I directed him this way and that. He will arrive there.

Later that morning I watched a group of 'bruised faces' on a park bench,
faces of many colours, blue, purple, red and yellow. They were engaged in
some fierce animated discussion or dialogue. In the corner of my field of
vision, as I averted my direct gaze for fear of upsetting their dynamic
poise and 'animation' I imagined I saw four or five philosophers debating
the 'meaning of life', or was it four or five 'apostles' discussing where
to go, what to do and how to follow 'best'?

What a contrast I thought, in one city. So many kinds of 'spirit'. From
the spirit of learning that drives the two sisters Oxford and Cambridge to
nurture minds like those of Sir Isaac Newton, Bertrand Russell, and
Wittgenstein to the spirit of alcohol that nurtures the mind into a
gentle/violent and quiet/noisy oblivion. I could then, for the life of me,
not make it fit.

Perhaps I have the map, the model up side down, even inside out?

Then I was in a tiny lane leading to a square. I could hear music. It flew
around the corners like a flock of small birds. A lone flute pipe, playing
a distinctly oriental tune or melody. From a distance I saw the figure, he
was dressed scrappily, he seemed to be swaying as if drunk, below his
swaying figure a cap, a dirty cap with coins in it. Mmmm.

Move closer.

I approached, as I did so I realised I knew this man, his father had been
a leading Marxist activist, he was a contemporary of mine. He had been a
distinguished 'fellow' at Nuffield College. We spoke warmly of old times
shared. (The times he beat me at chess). He had a new name, a new 'life'
and this was it.

Then every experience, which had earlier seemed at variance, came into
harmony (agreed) with itself. Which is a funny thing to say because
Heraclitus is supposed to have said something about that in relation the
the lyre and the bow, "The mingling of oppositesb^@&", he said. Mmmm.

My mind went back to the academic 'without' his map of the city. Then back
to the group of alcoholics. Finally, back to the flute playing 'fellow'.

I recalled how Scott Peck had written that after years of AA counselling
he had concluded the spirit of the bottle was haphazardly mistaken for the
Holy Spirit in some wretched misreading on the map of life. Somewhere on
the road to spirituality, (the search for something eternally better,
best?) they just wandered somehow into the warm and comforting arms of
another spirit. For a fragmentary moment I glimpsed Jesus sitting with
them and not in the Bodlean Library. Asking myself where should I rather
sit and digest true knowledge? Another variance then agreed with itself.

In England we have an organisation called the Church of England. Note, the
Church OF England. A simple man asked a bishop, "Why do you not go to the
Archbishop and say, we should call it the Church IN England." And I asked
myself, if we had possession of 'that' then we could have Government IN
the people, leadership IN the people, not leadership OF the people.

I then thought of Jesus, and Buddha and others, like Martin Luther King
and Mother Theresa and I asked myself rhetorically; Leadership OF or
Leadership IN.

And if both, which first?

My feeling, my gut feeling is to answer IN.

My sense is then one of fellow-SHIP.

Or do I mean FELLOW-ship.

And then I think, 'Leadership entails following' according to At de Lange
and ask myself if FELLOWSHIP is a form of FOLLOWSHIP?

David Bohm felt that the ART (and science) of LIFE was to be re-discovered
again in and through the word 'FIT'. It is 'fitting' then to me that in
one day, in the corner of one eye I should see so much.

I have a third eye. With this eye I tried an experiment.

I took all the living things in the world and lined them up upon the
'arrow of time' and looked down it as if aiming for the 'truth' I thought
I sought, such that 'all was one thing' as it moved through the unfolding
moment that is experienced time. (That moment/medium in which immense and
immensely subtle forces craft the differences between scholar and 'down
and out' that can even be the same person). What I saw amazed me.

One spinning joined up and 'fitting' thing.

Life IN love. Love OF life.

I have somewhere in my desk an exercise to extract some essence of 'self
hood', it appears like an inverted triangle and ends with a dynamic dual
that has yet to resolve itself into one term. The dual is expressed as
Tranquillity in Disturbance and is to be found in a Taoist text older than
the millennium we are about to depart.

"If the machine produces tranquillity and satisfaction it's right. If it
disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.
The test of the machine is always your own mind. There is no other test."

The skeptic smiled and said, "What if the machine is wrong and I feel
tranquil and satisfied about that?"

"If you really don't care you aren't going to know its wrong. The thought
will never occur to you. But to pronounce it wrong is an act of caring, so
your reply is self-contradictory." Robert Pirsig. 1974.

Round and round and round.

Best wishes,

Andrew Campbell.


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