The knot of contrariety

~
Sometimes, human beings feel contrary: irritable, grumpy, stubborn. It does not matter that we may be well-versed in rational critical thinking, or aware that a Zen approach can offer balance, or that an understanding of the psyche, or studies of consciousness, or even immersion in some sort of spiritual practice might help us to clear whatever baggage happens at this moment to burden us.
We’re just cranky, and for the moment, we feel justified in our contrariety. Here’s Walt Whitman:
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabb’d, blush’d, resented, lied, stole, grudg’d,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant;
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these wanting…

~

What appeals to me in the passage above is not so much Whitman’s confession–any of us might admit to others our foibles and our sins–but the extravagant and beautiful mode of his expression: lists, near-synonyms, expansions on meanings, metaphors following the verbs, nouns, and adjectives, “none of these wanting.”

128-2848_IMG

Hog… [His name is not Walt]

What appeals to me, really, is the way these lines make the litany of our petty evils so beautiful to behold. Perhaps that indicates that the aesthetics of a poem move the purpose beyond mere description and into the realm of art. I will be reading more about this in the coming week as I make my way through the book Feeling Beauty: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience by G. Gabrielle Starr.

~

Meanwhile, I am threading my way through the thorny knottiness of everyday life, trying to shed my contrariety as I proceed.

Knotted vines

Knotted vines

Advertisements

3 comments on “The knot of contrariety

  1. […] Then there are those of us who are a bit unconventional, or even contrarian. […]

    Like

  2. […] the book is not an easy read, Starr’s Feeling Beauty: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience offers interdisciplinary research into how the brain may be altered by powerful aesthetic […]

    Like

  3. KM Huber says:

    The temptation is to create a “contrariety” computer folder and place it on my bookmark bar for quick reference to this post. Who can count the days of contrariety but then, probably not much sense in that. It will just make me more contrary. 🙂

    Thanks for the Whitman reference and am looking forward to your other posts on Starr’s book. I note that I am bit behind in my reading of blog posts.
    Karen

    Like

Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s