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Chapter 12 Three Wise Men
I have come to really dislike this book but I have to say that the chapter title and the recounting of the trial is bitingly funny.
But then there is that section about 2/3 of the way through where he sounds like he sounds like an angry preacher blasting his congregation...you know that bit where he says”The Great American Public has a handicap which my friends at La Ferte did not as a rule have –education. Let no one sound his indignant yawp at this. I refer to the fact that, for an educated gent or lady, to create is first of all to destroy—that there is and can be no such thing as authentic art until the bon trucs (whereby we are taught to see and imitate on canvas and in stone and by words this so-called world) are entirely and thoroughly and perfectly annihilated by that vast and painful process of Unthinking, which may result in a minute bit of purely personal Feeling. Which minute bit is Art.”
So many of Cummings' assumptions about the world surface in that paragraph. His dualism is profound. Not surprising but profound. He is, in a sense, a Romantic. The idea that art is Art, that feeling and thinking are separate, mutually destructive, human functions, and that Feeling is the Way to the Divine. This kind of thinking has a long history in the US – I'm thinking at the moment of the great religious revival movements in US history known as The Great Awakenings.
I've always found it rather exciting to remember that there is a difference between what we experience and what we think it means.