Still Wrestling with the Notion of Epiphany

 

Getting a Better Grip on this Still Life in Watercolor

Getting a Better Grip on this Still Life in Watercolor

Mother indulgent.  Said I have a queer mind and have read too much.  Not true.  Have read little and understood less.  

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Today started out a bit rough because I was still physically and mentally exhausted from the national conference I attended the past three days in Florida.  Changing time zones twice within the three days, accompanied by all-day meetings and not enough sleep at night, along with long flights taxed me more than expected.  I slept in till 8:30 this morning, and decided after showering and putting on coffee that I would read and record ideas in my journal until I broke this feeling of lethargy.  I chose three different staging areas in my home set up as cozy little reading and writing nooks, and kept an eye on the clock so as to change locations on the hour.  It worked.  By the time I finished my third “session,” I was ready to re-enter the garage studio and resume work on the still life begun last week.  The indolent spell had been broken.

James Joyce remains my all-consuming interest in literature.  I’m enjoying a book about him authored by  A. Walton Litz, checked out from our school library.  I read the biographical chapter, along with the ones on Portrait and Ulysses.  Over Thanksgiving I had re-read almost in its entirety Joyce’s Portrait and have become fascinated with his theories on aesthetics.  I must admit that I have never myself worked out a comprehensive theory of aesthetics.  But noticing that Joyce could not cast off his Jesuit training when it came to structuring his novels, I acknowledge that I have not cast off my own seminary training when studying academically or pursuing the arts. Litz observed that Joyce, upon renouncing his training for the prieshood, turned to a priestly life in the arts, and that his aesthetic theories focused on “epiphany, the moment when spiritual reality is manifested in artistic form, just as the incarnate Word was revealed to the Wise Men.” Moreover, he stresses that Joyce’s Jesuit training continued to serve his writer’s craft, because the training was directed toward methods rather than content.  The Jesuit General in 1892 defined Jesuit education and training as directed toward the mind, and that the essence of the training lay in the “form” or “spirit of the system,” not the specific subject matter.

In recent conversations with friends, I have confessed that my own lifestyle could be deemed “religious” because I still experience epiphany from a myriad of sources.  In my earlier days of the ministry, I sought such experiences solely from my study of the Bible and I earnestly pursued such experiences.  In these later years, I note that epiphany comes to me when it comes, without my having to jump-start the experience by setting up some kind of program.  I find much satisfaction in this.

The still life arrangement has been a struggle with me, until tonight.  I’m not sure what happened.  Maybe I just did not have enough going on in the painting until tonight, or maybe I just found some important keys in the decisions I made a few hours ago (I determined that I needed to explore more contrast, both in value as well as the juxtaposition of warm and cool colors). All I know is that I have taken my readings and notes on Joyce today very seriously, and have continued to stare at this congeries of objects assembled in my garage, wondering how to make them “fit” into a pleasing composition on my paper.  I’m starting to like what I see now.

I regret laying down the brush but the hour has passed 11:00 and I have to rise at 6:00 to start another week of school. I close by inserting this composite sketch I did of Joyce back around 1987:

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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2 Responses to “Still Wrestling with the Notion of Epiphany”

  1. lifeofawillow Says:

    joyce is wonderful. as are your posts.

    Like

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