Attending from the Inside

I have been re-reading James Taylor’s incredible work, Poetic Knowledge.  I began my re-reading in order to mark a new copy of the book as I managed to loan out my old marked copy and then lost track of to whom and when, and where, and etc.  But as I started re-reading, about 8 years since the first go through, I found myself energized all over again with the freshness of the text.  I had forgotten far too much, assimilated a great deal more (no longer remembering from whence it came), and my further knowledge brought new insights to bear on the text.  So it has been altogether an enjoyable romp.

That being said, the point of this title comes from my extended attention to attention in education.  Taylor shows in his text over and over how Poetic Knowledge is something gained from within the thing being learned.  This kind of knowledge is quite different and prior to discursive or “factual” or scientific knowledge.  This knowledge comes from being a part of the thing known, rather than looking at it from without.  It is the difference between knowing and knowing about some thing.

And attention is at the heart of such knowledge.  One cannot know a thing from within it unless one attends to what he is “in.”  Only as he sees, or perhaps better, feels the thing he is within will he then come to the place of wonder that will then lead him to pursue that knowledge further via logical or discursive thought and investigation.  This has brought me back around to my friend Buck Holler’s use of Coleridge’s quote, “In the education of children, love is first to be instilled, and out of love, obedience is to be educed.”

What is more seminal to love than the necessity of attention.  “I love you, but I don’t look at you!?”  “I love you, but I have not heard a word you said all night!?!”  I think you get the point.  So bringing a student to at least a modicum of skill in attending unto something worth his attention is essential to teaching him to love, and to thus be able to pursue that love through attentive pursuit.  I wonder if attention deficit might simply be a lack of instilled love?





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