Signs and Wonders

Several disjointed thoughts here from my reading and current conversation with various friends:

  1.        Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos is taking me on an extended journey into Semiotic theory, reminiscent of where Barfield’s Poetic Diction took me about a year ago.  We are unique in the universe, at least as far as humans know, as the beings capable of triadic discourse.  When Ms. Sullivan spelled into one of Helen Keller’s hands the word “w-a-t-e-r” while the other hand felt running water, a triadic moment occurred.  A person associated a “signifier” or symbol with a real thing or “signified” reality.  This has continued to help me grasp the relation of ideas to thought and learning, though I don’t know if I can spell it all out yet.
  2.        In working through various responses to the Person of Christ, I noted that He presented Himself not as a disembodied idea, such as the Greeks had sought, but rather as an embodied  Idea.  “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus, Who…became…”  Experience with truth cannot be limited to the rational level, it must become flesh.  In the case of our acquiring truth, it must become our flesh.
  3.        I have written often of the disjointed nature of the curriculum, specializing ourselves into oblivion, but have perhaps neglected the continuity that is implied in personalities.  Is it not reasonable that if truth must be embodied, and that in such embodiment a learner first sees truth in his teacher, and then brings it with the “mid-wifery” of the teacher into his own life, that by keeping the teacher/student relationship limited to 9 months we stall this process out.  Every year the student must first gain a new relationship with a new teacher, and then, only if the teacher is embodying much the same truths as the previous ones, can the “transplantation” continue.  I think this discontinuity is far deeper in implication than we know.
  4.        If the true teacher embodies what it means to be a “learner” and I think such is implied above, then what does it say when most of the real reading, discussion, thinking and writing seems to be for the end of “publishing” and notice, perhaps even to entertain, rather than to pursue and find and then reveal truth?  I wonder if published academia would do better to contemplate and write about those things that are hard to swallow and perhaps even offend than to pursue consumption and politically correct “non-offensive” ends?
  5.        And finally, wonderment seems gone from much of education, at least by 2nd or 3rd grade.  Is this connected to our estrangement to symbols as found in metaphor, that more and more the classroom is about acquiring felicity with testing and “passing” than with the imaginative play of real intellectual achievement?  And how is this related to my other points about learning through sign/symbol and “in the gaps” of embodied truth?

Lost_in_the_Cosmos_by_Walker_Percy

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1 thought on “Signs and Wonders”

  1. Many of my former classmates prefer Lost in the Cosmos as their favourite of his books. My personal favourite is the Moviegoer. I much prefer his novels to his non-fiction books. His other non-fiction book The Message in the Bottle, I believe , is better than Lost in the Cosmos. These are just my opinions. In any event he’s a great writer, America’s gift to the world. Thanks.

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