Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood (223-232)

Perhaps because it is less plot driven (so far) this novel has quite a few MacDonald gems in the so called digressions.

"I had no time to repent, only to thank God.
This line is spoken by a former sailor who relates taking the Lord's name in vain when he thinks he is about to drown. He continues to speak of the greater shame at realizing he doubted God than at the swearing itself. It is a nice, succinct portrait of someone close enough to God that he can feel his own repentance without God bullying him into it.

"You know besides that a small matter in which a principle is involved will reveal the principle, if attended to, just as well as a great one containing the same principle" (226).
If attended to...if attended to...that's such an important little modifier. What a carefully constructed and profound sentence--with implications for art.

"There are many things which a little learning, while it cannot really hide them, may make you less ready to see all at once" (228).

I'm stuck mulling over the qualifier "little." Will more learning make you more likely to see them? Less likely to be hindered by the learning? Is it the learning itself that hinders or the pride that uses the little learning as its primary shield from hard truth?

"If anybody cannot understand why I did so, I beg him to consider the matter. If then he cannot come to a conclusion concerning it, I doubt if any explanation of mine would greatly subserve his enlightenment" (231).
Be careful when arguing with fools; observers might not be able to tell the difference.

There is more here than just that, though. How quick we are to argue and counterargue and how little we actually "consider the matter." Perhaps that is why art is higher than criticism. It will not rush to cast its pearls before swine.

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