In order to make a resume`, the meaning of art is: learn to see and to feel life: that is, cultivate imagination, because there are still marvels in the world, because life is a mystery and always will be. But be aware of it. Therefore art means: you have to believe, to have faith, that is, cultivate vision.
Wide open and unguarded stand our gates,
Named of the four winds, North, South, East and West;
Portals that lead to an enchanted land
Here, it is written, Toil shall have its wage
And Honor honor, and the humblest man
Stand level with the highest in the law.
Of such a land have men in dungeons dreamed
And with the vision brightening in their eyes
Gone smiling to the fagot and the sword.
O Liberty, white Goddess! is it well
To leave the gates unguarded? On thy breast
Fold Sorrows children, soothe the hurts of Fate,
Lift the down-trodden, but with hand of steel
Stay those who to thy sacred portals come
To waste the gifts of Freedom.
In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result. Chance is not. Gifts, powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort; they are thoughts completed, objects accomplished, visions realized.
The Vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart this you will build your life by, this you will become.
To desire is to obtain; to aspire is to, achieve. Shall man's basest desires receive the fullest measure of gratification, and his purest aspirations starve for lack of sustenance? Such is not the Law: such a condition of things can never obtain: "ask and receive."
Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your Ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.
Concerning perfect blessedness which consists in a vision of God
One who takes account of his shortcomings will always gain by it; one who is unmindful of them will always suffer. One who is afraid of the Day of Judgment, is safe from the Wrath of God. One who takes lessons from the events of life, gets vision, one who acquires vision becomes wise and one who attains wisdom achieves knowledge.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, every single leading Muslim intellectual was in love with the west, and wanted their countries to look just like Britain and France. Some of them even said that the Europeans were better Muslims than they themselves, because their modern society had enabled them to create a fairer and more just distribution of wealth, than was possible in their pre-modern climates, and that accorded more perfectly with the vision of the Quran.
Then there was the experience of colonialism under Britain and France, experiences like Suez, the Iranian revolution, Israel, and some people, not all by any means have allowed this ... these series of disasters to corrode into hatred. Islam is a religion of success. Unlike Christianity, which has as its main image, in the west at least, a man dying in a devastating, disgraceful, helpless death. crucified, and that turned into victory. Mohammed was not an apparent failure. He was a dazzling success, politically as well as spiritually, and Islam went from strength to strength to strength. But against the West, it's been able to make no headway, and this is as disturbing for Muslims as the discoveries of Darwin have been to some Christians. The Quran says that if you live according to the Quranic ideal, implementing justice in your society, then your society will prosper, because this is the way human beings are supposed to live. But whatever they do, they cannot seem to get Muslim history back on track, and this has led some, and only a minority, it must be said, to desperate conclusions.
In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.
There are two allied powers in man; knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is so much of the truth seen in a distorted medium as the mind arrives at by groping, wisdom what the eye of divine vision sees in the spirit.
The wellspring of courage and endurance in the face of unbridled power is generally a firm belief in the sanctity of ethical principles combined with a historical sense that despite all setbacks the condition of man is set on an ultimate course for both spiritual and material advancement. It is his capacity for self-improvement and self-redemption which most distinguishes man from the mere brute. At the root of human responsibility is the concept of perfection, the urge to achieve it, the intelligence to find a path towards it, and the will to follow that path if not to the end at least the distance needed to rise above individual limitations and environmental impediments. It is man's vision of a world fit for rational, civilized humanity which leads him to dare and to suffer to build societies free from want and fear. Concepts such as truth, justice and compassion cannot be dismissed as trite when these are often the only bulwarks which stand against ruthless power.
My mind withdrew its thoughts from experience, extracting itself from the contradictory throng of sensuous images, that it might find out what that light was wherein it was bathed... And thus, with the flash of one hurried glance, it attained to the vision of That Which Is.
It was an elevating, transforming vision: a new, fresh, vigorous, and above all morally regenerate people rising from the obscurity to defend the battlements of liberty and then in triumph standing forth, heartening and sustaining the cause of freedom everywhere.
"Thinking is seeing," said he one day, carried away by some objection raised as to the first principles of our organisation."Every human science is based on deduction, which is a slow process of seeing by which we work up from the effect to the cause; or, in a wider sense, all poetry like every work of art proceeds from a swift vision of things."
During my slumber I had a dream. I thought I was once more by the side of the Sphere, whose lustrous hue betokened that he had exchanged his wrath against me for perfect placability. We were moving together towards a bright but infinitesimally small Point, to which my Master directed my attention. As we approached, methought there issued from it a slight humming noise as from one of your Spaceland bluebottles, only less resonant by far, so slight indeed that even in the perfect stillness of the Vacuum through which we soared, the sound reached not our ears till we checked our flight at a distance from it of something under twenty human diagonals.
"Look yonder," said my Guide, "in Flatland thou hast lived; of Lineland thou hast received a vision; thou hast soared with me to the heights of Spaceland; now, in order to complete the range of thy experience, I conduct thee downward to the lowest depth of existence, even to the realm of Pointland, the Abyss of No dimensions.
You are living on a Plane. What you style Flatland is the vast level surface of what I may call a fluid, on, or in, the top of which you and your countrymen move about, without rising above it or falling below it.
I am not a plane Figure, but a Solid. You call me a Circle; but in reality I am not a Circle, but an infinite number of Circles, of size varying from a Point to a Circle of thirteen inches in diameter, one placed on the top of the other. When I cut through your plane as I am now doing, I make in your plane a section which you, very rightly, call a Circle. For even a Sphere which is my proper name in my own country if he manifest himself at all to an inhabitant of Flatland must needs manifest himself as a Circle.
Do you not remember for I, who see all things, discerned last night the phantasmal vision of Lineland written upon your brain do you not remember, I say, how, when you entered the realm of Lineland, you were compelled to manifest yourself to the King, not as a Square, but as a Line, because that Linear Realm had not Dimensions enough to represent the whole of you, but only a slice or section of you? In precisely the same way, your country of Two Dimensions is not spacious enough to represent me, a being of Three, but can only exhibit a slice or section of me, which is what you call a Circle.
The diminished brightness of your eye indicates incredulity. But now prepare to receive proof positive of the truth of my assertions. You cannot indeed see more than one of my sections, or Circles, at a time; for you have no power to raise your eye out of the plane of Flatland; but you can at least see that, as I rise in Space, so my sections become smaller. See now, I will rise; and the effect upon your eye will be that my Circle will become smaller and smaller till it dwindles to a point and finally vanishes.
There was no "rising" that I could see; but he diminished and finally vanished. I winked once or twice to make sure that I was not dreaming. But it was no dream. For from the depths of nowhere came forth a hollow voice close to my heart it seemed "Am I quite gone? Are you convinced now? Well, now I will gradually return to Flatland and you shall see my section become larger and larger."
Every reader in Spaceland will easily understand that my mysterious Guest was speaking the language of truth and even of simplicity. But to me, proficient though I was in Flatland Mathematics, it was by no means a simple matter.
Describing myself as a stranger I besought the King to give me some account of his dominions. But I had the greatest possible difficulty in obtaining any information on points that really interested me; for the Monarch could not refrain from constantly assuming that whatever was familiar to him must also be known to me and that I was simulating ignorance in jest. However, by persevering questions I elicited the following facts:
It seemed that this poor ignorant Monarch as he called himself was persuaded that the Straight Line which he called his Kingdom, and in which he passed his existence, constituted the whole of the world, and indeed the whole of Space. Not being able either to move or to see, save in his Straight Line, he had no conception of anything out of it. Though he had heard my voice when I first addressed him, the sounds had come to him in a manner so contrary to his experience that he had made no answer, "seeing no man", as he expressed it, "and hearing a voice as it were from my own intestines." Until the moment when I placed my mouth in his World, he had neither seen me, nor heard anything except confused sounds beating against what I called his side, but what he called his INSIDE or STOMACH; nor had he even now the least conception of the region from which I had come. Outside his World, or Line, all was a blank to him; nay, not even a blank, for a blank implies Space; say, rather, all was non-existent.
His subjects of whom the small Lines were men and the Points Women were all alike confined in motion and eye-sight to that single Straight Line, which was their World. It need scarcely be added that the whole of their horizon was limited to a Point; nor could any one ever see anything but a Point. Man, woman, child, thing each was a Point to the eye of a Linelander. Only by the sound of the voice could sex or age be distinguished. Moreover, as each individual occupied the whole of the narrow path, so to speak, which constituted his Universe, and no one could move to the right or left to make way for passers by, it followed that no Linelander could ever pass another. Once neighbours, always neighbours. Neighbourhood with them was like marriage with us. Neighbours remained neighbours till death did them part.
Such a life, with all vision limited to a Point, and all motion to a Straight Line, seemed to me inexpressibly dreary; and I was surprised to note the vivacity and cheerfulness of the King.
At times my spirit was too strong for me, and I gave vent to dangerous utterances. Already I was considered heterodox if not treasonable, and I was keenly alive to the danger of my position; nevertheless I could not at times refrain from bursting out into suspicious or half-seditious utterances, even among the highest Polygonal and Circular society. When, for example, the question arose about the treatment of those lunatics who said that they had received the power of seeing the insides of things, I would quote the saying of an ancient Circle, who declared that prophets and inspired people are always considered by the majority to be mad; and I could not help occasionally dropping such expressions as "the eye that discerns the interiors of things", and "the all-seeing land"; once or twice I even let fall the forbidden terms "the Third and Fourth Dimensions". At last, to complete a series of minor indiscretions, at a meeting of our Local Speculative Society held at the palace of the Prefect himself, some extremely silly person having read an elaborate paper exhibiting the precise reasons why Providence has limited the number of Dimensions to Two, and why the attribute of omnividence is assigned to the Supreme alone I so far forgot myself as to give an exact account of the whole of my voyage with the Sphere into Space, and to the Assembly Hall in our Metropolis, and then to Space again, and of my return home, and of everything that I had seen and heard in fact or vision. At first, indeed, I pretended that I was describing the imaginary experiences of a fictitious person; but my enthusiasm soon forced me to throw off all disguise, and finally, in a fervent peroration, I exhorted all my hearers to divest themselves of prejudice and to become believers in the Third Dimension.
Need I say that I was at once arrested and taken before the Council?
To every man of vision the clear Voice speaks; there is no great leadership where there is not a mystic. Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside themselves was superior to circumstance. To choose the sure thing is treason to the soul.
There's a place for him, but he's the final determinant as to whether he achieves that or not. He needs to capture the imagination of a universe hungry for decent thought and passion. All he has to do is be truthful and have a vision for what to do and stop playing a goddamn game of politics. If he does that, he'll get everything he needs.
Will we lift our sights to meet his vision?
For the world to follow, we must do more than rattle our sabers and demand allegienace to our vision simply because we believe we are right. We must provide a reason for others to aspire to that vision. And that reason must come with more than the repetition of a bumper-sticker phrase about freedom and democracy. It must come with more than the restatement of failed policy. It must come with the wisdom to admit when we are wrong and resolve to change course and get it right.
Those, no doubt, are in some way fortunate who have brought themselves, or have been brought by others, to obey some ultimate principle before the bar of which all problems can be brought. Single-minded monists, ruthless fanatics, men possessed by an all-embracing coherent vision do not know the doubts and agonies of those who cannot wholly blind themselves to reality.
There exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision ... and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory ... The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes.
The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan: one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today, but the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.
We can be tempted to make the life of faith a matter of mere sentiment, thus blunting its power to inspire a consistent vision of the world and a rigorous dialogue with the many other visions competing for the minds and hearts of our contemporaries.