Wednesday, November 16, 2005


"The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails."
-James Joyce-
Professor G. told us about this quote as we discussed Deism in class the other day. The Religious Tolerance website defines Deism beautifully: The God That Got Away. elaborates: "Belief in God as revealed by nature and reason combined with a disbelief in scripture, prophets, superstition and church authority." Professor G. described it as the belief in a God who created the universe and then withdrew completely. Doesn't care at all about what goes on down here. That makes so much sense to me right now, I cannot tell you.

The discussion came up when we were analyzing this poem:

"Inditing a Good Matter"

I find nothing to say,
I am heavy as lead.
I take small satisfaction
in anything I have said.

Evangelists want your assent,
be it cringing, or idle, or eager.
God shrugs. We taste dismay,
as sharp as vinegar.

He shrugs. How can He care
what billets-doux we send Him,
how much we applaud? Such coxcombs
inclined to commend Him!

My heart had been inditing
a good matter. My tongue
was the pen of a ready writer
who had been writing too long.

Whoever supposes his business
is to commend and bless
is due for this comeuppance:
feeling it less and less.

But I find something to say.
I pump it out, heavy as lead:
'Buoy me up out of the shadow
of your ramparts overhead.'

Like one of those vanished performers
on an afternoon-matinee console,
I arise:
'Admit to your rock
this ready, this shriven, soul.'

-Donald Davie-

Obviously Davie is saying that it is useless to praise God and to think that He cares about anything we do. Professor G. asked us what we thought the last part meant, and I said that Davie is challenging God. He's telling God, "Buoy me up out of the shadow of your ramparts overhead." In other words, "Why don't you do something? Why don't you help me?" Professor G. agreed that it was a challenge. I didn't come up with it because I'm so great at analyzing poetry. It just seemed obvious to me because I tell God that very thing practically every day. What are You doing up there? Paring Your fingernails?



You want some good insight on God? Check out th' end of Devil's Advocate.

fp said...

The Incarnation and Jesus on the Cross shows us that God isn't just "paring his fingernails."