Hi James: I very much enjoyed seeing once more JC lay out the two paths. He seems to suggest that we choose either/or if I am tracking him, but I also see a both/and life wherein one can be part of “the village compound” and on one’s own journey. It is a dance, to be sure, between the compound and the interior calling of the soul. Coincidentally, I am rereading Melville’s magnificent Moby-Dick currently in preparing for offering a retreat on Nantucket island in October where we will combine the epic with a psychologist’s taking us through the natural setting of the island, both as ways to cultivate soul work. Both individual and collective. So I am reading James’ wonderful discussion through the poetics of Ishmael’s journey inward and outward towards community and then to the transcendent within the immanent. I think that this domain is that of the artist, the poet, the creative in whatever medium one chooses. And, yes, the artist shows us the world we inhabit and then takes us inward to see, often, its double in our own souls. This double pathway is Ishmael’s quest in MD, aided by the most contrasting figure of the islander, Queequeg, whose tattooed body carries an entire cosmology of his tribe. Myth as metaphor.
Thank you both for this exchange.
This deep desire to connect with others through art is a primordial impulse and can connect us to one another on such deep levels. Recently I wrote an op-ed piece on my website that explored Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s ideas of the artist in society that encourages a deeper fraternity between social members through art. To refer to James’s suggestion, art is a place where friendship can flourish, where something that stirs in the human heart can be expressed and shared. One of JC’s treasures is that he most often returned to the artist as the carrier of the myths that surround us. Their ability to merge myth with poetics is what makes the artist so necessary and nourishing.