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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Life Hack 21: Spiritual Practices

This terminology might be off-putting to you.  I suggest that you find another term that is your own, or that produces the effect that you desire.

What I am suggesting here is that certain things can be spiritual practices. By this I mean that they are non-trivial things that you are pursuing in a mindful way.  It could be listening to music, or having sex, or reading poetry, or meditating.  Don't be pretentious about it or anything. The point is not to make yourself seem superior to anyone else, but to bring things into proper focus. If you want to see something as a hobby, that is fine too.

If I view reading poetry as a spiritual practice, then when I write about it my writing will reflect this. The way I approach it will be different, and I will no longer care about certain things, like people who don't like the same poets I do. I won't have to force others to agree with me, or enforce arbitrary institutional frameworks. So if I am teaching poetry, I will be aware that what I'm teaching is only a little sliver of what poetry is, because I cannot even emphasize the reading of poetry as a spiritual exercise. That will make me less frustrated.

2 comments:

Thomas said...

This is a very important issue for me. I tend to distinguish sharply between spiritual and academic exercises. I would never give students spiritual exercises as homework, for example. In my own case, I had to decide whether I had an academic interest in Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein or a spiritual interest in existence and language. The notions of "art" and "craft" are the crux of this distinction, I think. And true spirituality probably undermines the distinction itself.

Leslie said...

I would have said everything was but Thomas is right.