May sees the creative act as an encounter between two poles. A dialectical process between the subjective pole – the artist – and the objective pole – that which the artist is contemplating. It is in the moment of encounter between them that newness occurs.
He quotes Archibald MacLeish on this, who sees these two poles more fundamentally as ‘being and not-being’, and recalls a Chinese poet saying ‘We struggle with being to force it to yield being. We knock on silence for an answering music.’ “Thus“, MacLeish continues, “the poet’s labour is to struggle with the meaningless and silence of the world until he/she can force it to mean; until he/she can make the silence answer and the Non-being be. It is a labour which undertakes to ‘know’ the world not by exegesis or demonstration or proofs but directly, as a man knows an apple in the mouth.”
Part of the journey that Vaux started in me and others was to discover something about the connections between spirituality and aesthetics. Others are taking this way further than I could ever, but I’m genuinely excited by what they might uncover, and these sorts of passages confirm for me that they are more closely bound than we think.
One need only think about the above in terms of our quest for communion (encounter) with God, the Other, this Non-being who I struggle to understand, and the ‘knocking upon silence for an answering music’ becomes a symphony of synapses saying ‘yes!’
Exegesis? Here’s to eating apples.