A&O – Spirituality – time


April 2018

Another ART & ORGANISM Spring Seminar is winding down; students are getting excited about an off-campus Colloquy that will enable our exploration of new ideas in a congenial setting.  More details are at the website.

As we explored qualities of art that affect us, its seeming existence outside of time is gaining traction.  Of course, time is part of context and context is a large part of our ECOLOGICAL theme, but it also speaks to DEVELOPMENT, since it seems the order in which ideas are presented matters.

Some traditional thought about ART and TIME must include the observation that 

“Art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm—an  arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.” (Saul Bellow 1915, In George Plimpton Writers at Work (1967) 3rd series, p. 190).

Such stillness is a precious “momentary stay against confusion,” as Frost called it.][i] 

And there is time, past, present, future … and the stillpoint as in Burnt Norton: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/11/18/t-s-eliot-reads-burnt-norton/

PHYSIOLOGISTS: consider our readings that disclose A Surprising Connection Between Memory and Imagination


[i].  “Robert Frost, in the preface to his Complete Poems ( 1949 ), defined a poem as “a momentary stay against confusion” and defined poetry as an artistic medium which reflects stability and permanence encompassed by the moment of the poem. In his own work, he wanted to preserve his most common poetic subjects–the fading New England country life and dialect, and rural landscapes and history — by fixing them indelibly in an immortal poetry, for Frost always retained something of the notions his mother taught him as a child: that a creative act is one inspired by God, that the impulse to write is divine, and that poetry could express dimensions of immortality. When he matured as a poet, Frost relied on Emerson’s thoughts regarding the “godly artist” to corroborate his mother’s teaching; later still, when asked to introduce the anthology New Poets of England and America (1957), America’s foremost poet alluded to his early belief that poets enter a meditative “state of grace” while composing.”  (From “The Enduring Robert Frost,” By Samuel Maio, first published in The Formalist, 1990).   (also see Seldes’s  The Great Thoughts p 223)



Professor Emeritus, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.