Seeing Through the Invisible

While I know you are all desperately waiting the posting of pictures and tales from my trip out west (a “business cruise” with Andrew Pudewa’s organization), I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait for a day or two to see them.

I only have a moment and you don’t want to hear all the explanations about computers burning out and getting purchased and being adjusted to and all that rot. You just want to hear this:

CS Lewis introduced  a theme in The Pilgrim’s Regress that he developed continually throughout his writings, in particular, perhaps in The Abolition of Man.

I’m referring to his recognition that the modern and now the post-modern delights in “seeing through things.”

That part is recognized by almost everybody now, and the Beatles made a living off the motif after Sergeant Pepper, at the latest.

Pause.

They had a song on their Revolver album, I believe, entitled, I’m Looking Through You so it was even before Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.

But what Lewis saw was that, if you see through everything there is nothing left to look at.

You end up asking questions like Stanley Fish’s, “Is there a text in the classroom?” or writing essays like Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation.

Indeed, texts do disappear when you only look through them and interpretation becomes impossible when you stop noticing the forms of what you are looking at.

For these reasons I appreciate a phrase I saw a few minutes ago, though I no longer remember where. What I saw was, “the beauty of grammar.”

I don’t think most people think grammar is beautiful. Then again, they don’t think geometry is beautiful either. All that means is that they don’t have eyes to see.

The beauty of grammar is a formal and a calm beauty. I would go further and suggest that it is a hidden beauty.

Grammar is the skeleton of our language, but skeletons aren’t generally considered beautiful. If we want to hold to that metaphor, then let’s say that grammar is what makes the beauty of language possible.

The soul does not like confusion and disorder. Grammar removes them. It takes wild and whirling words and orders them, not arbitrarily but with deep meaning and purpose. It breathes respect for the auditor and ancestor into the sentence, and so exalts the speaker who humbles himself before her.

She makes human society possible and delightful. She weaves hearts together, even when they disagree.

Honestly, it is heartbreaking to see how she is despised and neglected in our day.

People want to see through every text and every statement, and not knowing grammar makes it a lot easier to do so. But the Beatle’s lyric comes back with a bit of a haunting conclusion:

I’m looking through you…

Where did you go?

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3 Responses

  1. What would you all think about coming down our way one Friday or Saturday evening? If you come on a Friday, you can watch me throw pizza dough.

    Email us and we can work on date.

  2. I like your choice.

    The cruise was productive with an element of relaxation. It was great fun, made new friends, got to spend time with Andrew Pudewa, whom I love dearly.

    it was a “business cruise” though, so it wasn’t relaxing in a vacation sort of way. I don’t find those relaxing either, though.

    when do we get to see you and your fam? I want to see your new little one!

  3. Last night our family was having a lively discussion about which super power we’d want to have and why. I chose “x-ray vision”. But then I thought better of it.

    (in the end I chose the ability to duplicate myself at will – what mother wouldn’t like that?)

    Hope you are well and that your cruise was productive and relaxing!

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