An Either Scholarly or Artistic Picture

To hold questions open, to be able to remain with the uncomfortable questions in one's various quests, can bring answers, sometimes suddenly, like those waves that hide then reveal trails of jewels of shells on the shore. Questions can be at once typological and personal, so can be answered by gazing at what other people retain from the movement of their lives. What follows is a personal anecdote on this theme.
While I was reading about deserts, still (dryly?!) afflicted by the concerns of my previous post, I came to a blog that set out its modus operandi as "either scholarly or artistic". Those words are answers to an uncomfortable question, elucidating two poles that are at battle within me: pedantic methodology vs. the freedom and freedom of application of craft in the exploration of subjects. In those two simple words, are two different approaches - can we say that one is more valid than the other? Scholasticism can be limited by the shortsightedness of the historical situation or variations on Baconian idols; art, by whim and fantasy. But both have the potential to seek something true and meaningful about the lived experience.

As I continued to reflect on this blog that I found (The Southwest Journal), I marvelled at how much of myself and how many of my own questions that I had been uncomfortably carrying around seemed to be dwelling there - that is, beyond the "scholarly or artistic".
For example, what is the point of the scholarly or artistic, if we do not know what it is for? Pedagogy teaches that where learning is concerned, one of the first problems is determining an end-point to the journey is to be. In other words, teachers must have some idea of what they want students to have acquired along the way of a lecture series: a fair teacher not only knows what will be "wanted of" the student, but will make this explicitly clear, over and over again. So, what is the point of the scholasticism and art?
... The noble life [in the] life of the common, day-to-day struggles that everyone faces, ... [which] is only gained through perseverance, inner strength, and the determination to build the character that comes with playing the long game. It is the life-long devotion and perseverance to unglamorous actions that develop into stewardship for that which lies before us in daily life. As Wendell Berry said, “It may, in some ways, be easier to be Samson than to be a good husband or wife for 50 years.”
... The noble life has been ignored, I think, because it’s not a shiny object; it does not end in a spectacular singular event. It is not a candle burning at both ends. It has the unfortunate commodity of being personal and slow, built on values not easily measurable or even visible. The noble life unfurls behind the man or woman living it where understanding requires knowing the story, seeing with different eyes, and valuing the slow and steady march of time, for that is what it takes to grow into such a life. Where we live and who we live there with define the terms of our relationship to the world and to humanity. You cannot save the land apart from the people or the people apart from the land (Wendell Berry).
This was written by GSH, here. In another post, she writes, "Survival happens through compromise not through hard lines and competition. Compromise is how you don’t lose it all."

The point to scholasticism and art, in this iteration, is character building and other people. Indeed, it is through other people that the very seeds for this post were spotted.
Just as invisible and uncomfortable questions can inform the outcome of one's daily thoughtful desert wanderings, keeping an eye on character building and the importance of others can inform the effect a life has...
... if one can handle the discomfort. To hold open space for other people is uncomfortable; they are unpredictable and will require ever-newly-invented responses, testing one's resolve and intentions (does one really care about others in practice, or only in theory?) There will be times one will have to face an unfortunate image of oneself, when one fails to choose the right response in the moment to unpredictable interlocutors. But there is a bigger picture - which can be intuited and incorporated into the picture of one's own life, if one has the scholastic or artistic inclination to grasp it.

Brush: misprinted type.

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