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About Glenn Hughes

https://www.stmarytx.edu/academics/faculty/glenn-hughes/

CR

On Sat, Feb 4, 2017 at 2:25 PM Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Maybe even that does not help, so I''m reproducing the review.
>
> ---
>
> The Spiritual in Poetry and Art
>
> voegelinview.com/a-more-beautiful-question-review/
>
> A More Beautiful Question: The Spiritual in Poetry and Art . Glenn
> Hughes. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2011. Copyright ©
> 2011 Lee Trepanier.
>
> Concerned with how art, and especially poetry, can serve as a vehicle of
> spiritual expression and orientation in today’s culture, Glenn Hughes’ A
> More Beautiful Question adopts the philosophies of Lonergan and Voegelin
> to contend that spiritual concerns remain a vibrant part of western culture
> but are no longer located in mainstream religions and their teaching. The
> growth of alternative religious symbolism and teaching and the popularity
> of fundamentalist religious movements attest that the crisis of faith of
> the last century is one of disorientation rather than dislocation.
> Spiritual and religious self-understanding and expression may have been
> culturally marginalized or politically channeled into Gnostic ideologies or
> religious fanaticism but spiritual yearning and religious commitment
> continue to exist in human affairs because it is a permanent part of our
> nature.
>
> For Hughes, art, at least great art, speaks from and to our spiritual
> apprehensions and can remind us of our spiritual natures in our cultural
> life. Because poetry is fundamentally symbolic in its form, it possesses
> the capacity to suggest the incommensurable and unknowable of the
> transcendence and thereby reawaken the spiritual experiences that gave rise
> to the symbols and stories of poetry in the first place. In his book,
> Hughes plans to demonstrate how art, and particularly poetry, may help us
> recognize and sustain a balanced spiritual orientation in the present
> culture.
>
> But before looking at poetry, Hughes spends the first two chapters laying
> down the theoretical foundations to analyze it. In the first chapter,
> “Childhood, Transcendence, and Art,” Hughes explores the spiritual function
> of art in contemporary culture by describing the historical transformation
> of the discovery of transcendence and how this discovery parallels our own
> experiences as we make the transition from childhood to adulthood. As
> children, we experience reality as the unity of the cosmos permeated with a
> sense of the mysterious and transcendence; as adults we develop a
> sophisticated understanding of this source of mystery and transcendence
> while trying to retain our child-like sense of wonder towards reality. For
> Hughes, appreciating this aspect of the existential journey out of
> childhood provides the basis for an understanding how art can sustain a
> spiritually-rich adult life.
>
> The second chapter, “Spiritual Functions of Art,” explores how formal
> structures of art evokes a wholeness of reality and thereby suggest a
> dimension of transcendent meaning; and how the content of art reminds us
> that we are spiritual creatures. Specifically Hughes looks at Lonergan’s
> treatment of art, which focuses on fact and potentialities of freedom, and
> combines it with Voegelin’s concept of the metaxy – the “in-between”
> existence between immanence and transcendence – as an analytical tool to
> understand art. The task of art therefore is to reawaken the spiritual
> capacities of people in a culture dominated by materialism, flatten
> psychological experiences, and religious fanaticism.
>
> The next three chapters explore three poets whom Hughes believes their
> poetry evokes one’s existence in the metaxy and affirm human
> participation with transcendence. In the third chapter on Hopkins, Hughes
> argues that Hopkins’ poetry was focused on communicating the experience of
> the transcendence in the finite world and gave particular attention to the
> Incarnation of Christ. Creation for Hopkins is participation in the divine
> Word of God which made all things. Unlike conceptualized language,
> Hopkins’s poetry is representative of Lonergan’s concept of elemental
> meaning: a primordial, concrete, and densely compacted expression that is
> symbolic in nature and alludes to the reality of transcendence. Struggling
> to find a language that express this elemental meaning, Hopkin experimented
> with poetic forms and language that broke free from the Victorian poetic
> diction of his period. Although the form of his poetry was modern, the
> content of his poetry was decidedly traditional or spiritual in its attempt
> to express human existence and participation in the world.
>
> After Hopkins, Hughes looks at Emily Dickinson’s poetry as records of
> ecstatic or transfigured moments in which transcendence is experienced and
> leads her to explore further the human situation as one of longing and
> striving for transcendence in the metaxy. Dickinson was engaged in the
> recovery of genuine spiritual experience in her poetry and pushed aside the
> religious dogmatism and emotional sentimentalism of her time. In her
> accounts of spiritual paradoxes, uncertainty, and suffering, Dickinson
> performed this recovery of transcendence in experimental form and as an
> exercise of self-examination and self-imposed social isolation.
>
> Hughes brings us into the twentieth century with an examination of T.S.
> Eliot’s Four Quartets. This poem presents us a portrait of what it means
> to be a spiritual realist in the contemporary world. By exploring human
> existence in the metaxy, Eliot presented a perspective of humans striving
> that balances immanent and transcendent concerns in their lives and being
> open to sources of transcendence outside the Christian tradition. For
> Hughes, Eliot’s poetry is the artistic counterpart of Voegein’s philosophy
> of consciousness and provides us the foundation from which child- like
> experiences can be invoked and recalled within us.
>
> The book also has an introduction and conclusion that summarizes the
> themes that Hughes explores in philosophy and poetry. Although portions of
> it has been printed elsewhere, Hughes’ A More Beautiful Question provides
> us a theoretically approach to poetry that is both illuminating and
> thematically consistent. For those who are interested in poetry, its
> capacity to express spiritual longing, and its role in contemporary
> culture, Hughes’ book is an excellent source to understand and explore
> these questions.
>
> Having said that, I have one minor point about the book that I wished
> Hughes would have explored further. The relationship between poetry and
> philosophy that Hughes presents is one of compatibility. However, this
> position is contrary to most of western philosophy starting with Socrates
> who exile the poets from the city in The Republic. Although I recognize
> this book is not about the quarrel between philosophy and poetry per se, I
> do think Hughes should at least acknowledge that more recent philosophy’s
> acceptance of poetry as a legitimate source of knowledge (which includes
> thinkers like Lonergan and Voegelin) is something new and explain why this
> change has occurred.
>
> But this is a minor quibble. Hughes’ A More Beautiful Question is a
> philosophically-sound, textually-driven account of how poetry can provide
> us spiritual orientation in the culture today. The decline of mainstream
> religion is not an indication of spiritual diminishment but rather one of
> disorientation where people look to religious fundamentalism or Gnostic
> ideologies for existential meaning. Hughes proposes poetry, at least great
> poetry, as a third choice for our culture to orient itself properly. To
> point this out and to propose this as an alternative to the illegitimate
> forms of ideology and fundamentalism is one of the great contributions this
> book makes in our culture and understanding of it.
>
> ---
> On Sat, Feb 4, 2017 at 2:11 PM Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> Let me forward the original message to me, Ken.
> Hope everyone gets it here.
> Regards,
> CR
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ---------
> From: Academia.edu Weekly Digest <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Sat, Feb 4, 2017 at 9:47 AM
> Subject: Glenn Hughes’ A More Beautiful Question: The Spiritual in Poetry
> and Art - Academia.edu
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>
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