Friday, October 24, 2008

Moore's SoulMates enchants reader

Today, at the Happiness Practice blog, Argent describes picking up Thomas Moore's SoulMates (1994) at a thrift shop. This blogger says, "I love reading the foreword or preface section in a book. It seems like I'm having a private chat with the writer before he gets down to business of yakking about his topic. For example in SoulMates, Thomas Moore captures me entirely with these words:
"My conviction is that deep changes in life follow movements in imagination." and
"The soul has a strong desire and need for intimacy, and it loves vernacular life -the particular place, family, friends, and neighborhood that are part of our daily lives." or
"Soul does love imagination, though and my emphasis throughout this book is on deepening and enriching our imaginations."

I'm a sucker for this type of come hither talk at the beginning of a book. There was no way I was going to be going astray from the relationship started in the preface of such a darling book. I was his. And now I'm afraid. I'll be spending all my time with my new book and new writer lover. It is shameful how much time I spend in happiness - reading in the arms of a literary love."
May Argent's future posts describe continuing reactions to Moore's SoulMates.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Astrotheme presents birth chart for Moore

The Astrotheme site provides an astrological birth chart and interpretation for Thomas Moore according to birth on October 8, 1940 at 9:23 a.m. in Detroit, Michigan (USA).

The site concludes the following for Moore:
Sun: 15°09 Libra
Moon: 19°11 Capricorn
Ascendant: 16°22 Scorpio
Midheaven: 27°35 Leo
Chinese Astrology: Metal Dragon
Numerology: Birthpath 5

According to the description presented for Moore,
"The three most important planets in your chart are Saturn, Venus and Jupiter. Saturn is part of your dominant planets: among the facets of your character, you have a grave and serious side, wise and somewhat severe, since your concentration can be powerful, to the detriment of carelessness and friendliness. You often look austere, but it is only an appearance, a kind of modesty or reserve; however, it is true that the Saturnian, who is fond of time, effort, asceticism, rigour and sobriety, may have popularity issues. Nevertheless, honesty and straightforwardness, reliability, as well as slow, wise and deep mental process, although not very popular and visible qualities, eventually become noticed and appreciated. Saturnians' second part of life is usually easier and more fulfilling.

Like the Jupiterian, your Saturnian facet prompts you to seek the essential, security, and longevity. However, the difference with the former is that you will never give priority to wealth or "the bigger, the better" philosophy for the sake of power. Saturn, like Jupiter, symbolizes social integration, and it is usually considered positive to have a harmonic Jupiter and Saturn in one's chart because of their social adaptation capacities.
. . .
Your approach to things is connected to your heart and for you, no real communication can flow if your interlocutors exude no sympathy or warmth. Cold and logical reasoning, clear thoughts and good sense are not important to you: if there is no affective bond with your environment, no connection can be established with the Venusian that you are and nothing happens."

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Slow discovery of intimacy through art works

In Melbourne’s The Age for Saturday 11 October, Andrew Stephens discusses two local art installations in "Too Close for Comfort". He writes,
"Intimacy isn't easy, for vulnerability requires emotional nakedness, letting down the defences to expose and share ugly or dull traits alongside fragile treasures. We crave intimacy - with partners, parents, children, even strangers - yet we may repel or avoid it out of paralysing fear of what it demands of us.

I have searched for clues to it in books - haven't we all? On the cover of Thomas Moore's beautiful Care of the Soul, a subtitle explains that it is "a guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life". There are other texts of this ilk on my shelves - James Hillman's A Blue Fire, Stephanie Dowrick's Intimacy and Solitude, Robert Johnson's Psychology of Romantic Love. They all make their cases for greater intimacy. Some are truly wise.

But the real, slow discovery is that intimacy mostly comes in relationships with people and usually involves an exchange: honest conversation, tenderness and compassion, sexual expression, or perhaps simply being. Other forms of intimacy can mean communing deeply with self or with the creative world.
It is a question that goes to the heart of the experience of intimacy: how close can you get, and yet retain your identity and necessary solitude at the same time? Even with your beloved, or a dying parent, or a newborn child (let alone an art work), you can only go so far. It is the sort of thing that Stephanie Dowrick writes so successfully about: that intimacy begins on the inside, that it begins with your own self, and if the boundaries blur too much between two people, a dynamic can ensue which actually hinders or defeats intimacy.

It is an intriguing aspect of humanity: our desire to "only connect", as E.M.Forster's epigraph announced in Howard's End. Some lovers misconstrue this desire as a need to be "as one", to take union - coital or emotional - to its extreme and to actually merge. I think of Cathy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights or the medieval myth of Tristan and Isolde. As Melbourne psychologist Peter O'Connor remarks in Looking Inwards (2003), such idealisation of a lover usually turns to disillusionment. If we are able to hang in there and work through it, he says, that denigration may metamorphose into a healthy and fulfilling integration of the other's difference. We come to value these differences - a process we might apply more broadly when we encounter "the other" (in culture, politics, sexuality or gender) in the broader world.

Many nuances of relationship are beautifully explored in the Intimacy exhibition at ACCA but one telling aspect ... is the emphasis on non-verbal languages to convey intimate feelings.

"I didn't expect music to be such a large part," says curator Anna MacDonald when she gives me a preview of some of the works she chose for the show. "But then it also seems quite natural. Music steps in when another kind of language fails - and if you think of the way it functions in most people's lives ... you experience particular emotions when you listen to music; it also helps you to understand or to articulate particular feelings in a way that you can't do otherwise."

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Education is cultivating what's hidden as seed

A mother of two young children, while blogging about the value and meaning of education, quotes Thomas Moore’s book, The Education of the Heart:
Thomas Moore said, "Education is the art of enticing the soul to emerge from its cocoon, from its coil of potentiality and its cave of hiding. Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities - that's training, or instructing - but is rather a making visible what is hidden as a seed." (Education of the Heart)1.
Now, she supports home schooling and continues, "Think of the child before school - the massive learning that takes place from birth to age 3 or 4. No one coaxes the baby to roll or reach, she does it on her own volition driven by her own curiosity. What enormous leaps of cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development take place during these years. This is what we hope continues to happen upon sending the child to school - growth, enrichment, becoming good people. But all of this happened at home without the standardized tests or workbooks. So, what changes?

These are the thoughts that weave through the network of preconceived notions of schooling and education. I have brought my son home because of it. He has attended school up until this year at a delightful private school that is the closest thing to home school that we can find. His little sister is in preschool there now, although I still have reservations when I see the inevitable conformity setting in. What I want for my children is to stay in touch with their personal geniuses- for their education to be an ongoing life process, not something that takes place from 8AM til 3PM."

1. Moore, Thomas. The Education of the Heart. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1996.

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