Dawning of a New Day

Sun Slowly Rising on Sacred Heart Church. 400 N. Queen Street

The great thinker is one who can hear what is greatest in the work of other “greats” and who can transform it in an original manner.

Martin Heidegger, “The Being of beings as Will in Traditional Metaphysics,” Nietzsche

We woke up a little after 5 this morning, no doubt excited about the possibilities of another weekend in our Gallery here in Palestine, Texas. Art Walk is tomorrow, 10-3:00, with twenty businesses downtown featuring artists on display. Sandi and I are also anticipating great happenings at the Edom Art Festival October 9-10.

I am sitting up in bed, resuming my reading of Heidegger’s Nietzsche lectures. Across the street, Sacred Heart Church just tolled nine times to signal it is 7:00 (that happens frequently in this town). Chuckling after counting the bells, I suddenly came across this sterling quote that I have put at the top of the entry.

Again . . . The great thinker is one who can hear what is greatest in the work of other “greats” and who can transform it in an original manner.

As a child, I always admired all the other students in my classes who raised their hands, answering questions posed by the teachers. I always believed them to be much more intelligent than I could ever be. When I entered the ministry as an adult, I knew I had good memory, always quoting scriptures at length. But I knew I wasn’t really a “thinker.” Entering seminary, I knew I could count on good memory to recall particular texts to answer questions posed on exams. But I was only confirming what Roland Bainton of Yale once said: “One can earn a Ph.D. at an accredited university by memorizing a great number of facts, and entertaining no thoughts.” It wasn’t until my years of doctoral study that something happened for which I remain grateful: my ability to paraphrase and synthesize more than one text and more than one thinker while focused on a particular subject. I knew for the first time in my life that I was actually thinking critically, creatively. And then I entered the high school classroom.

Three decades later, I still find profound satisfaction in reading the kinds of texts required for scholarly activity (yes, I still read novels and poetry) even though I’ve spent the past four semesters in my art studio and gallery, not in classrooms. But when Texas Wesleyan University came calling last month, it was good to know that I had not rusted intellectually; I was still engaged in critical/creative thinking as a lifestyle rather than a job to perform.

The Heidegger quote above immediately called up in my memory one of my favorite Emerson texts from “The American Scholar” which I now paraphrase:

The creator of the first age breathed into himself the surrounding world of kindred spirits, lingered over the words and images, rearranged them in a fashion of his own liking, and pushed the new creation back out into the world.

Here is the Emerson quote: The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again.

The morning has been terrific, as I’ve had the pleasure of communing with Heidegger, Nietzsche, Schelling, Hegel and Leibniz to name a few of these creative spirits.

But now it is after 9:00 and some things need to be done in the gallery before we open at 10.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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