Posted by Matthew and Joy Steem On May 9, 2017
My friend died yesterday. Grief sometimes has a way of wafting through the cracks of our chambers and lying in wait. A dark heaviness. A soundlessly creeping shroud that descends upon us and subdues our senses. An impenetrable presence…
Source: Off The Page – The Problem of (Talking About) Pain
Posted by Matthew and Joy Steem On April 28, 2017
“Oh yeah, Christians totally hate the environment. You didn’t know that?” I overheard this statement after Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Part One was released in theaters, and it bothered me. Tolkien’s rich, imaginative work, along with his beloved hobbits…
Source: Off The Page – Sister Nature
Posted by Matthew and Joy Steem On April 25, 2017
It’s a little bit passive-aggressive, I suppose, but I enjoy scandalizing my mom. My most recent attempt involved the statement, “I was reading an excellent Playboy article the other day…” When her bespectacled nose wrinkled up a bit, I continued…
Source: Off The Page – Think Little
Posted by Matthew and Joy Steem On February 23, 2017
There are a few situations in my life for which feelings of near overwhelming disappointment with myself make me wince. Recollections of these failings appear on the projector screen of my memories from time to time, and I am smitten…
Source: Off The Page – Sins of Omission
Posted by joy and matthew steem On February 17, 2017
While writing on such a grandiose personage, it’s hard to not aspire to touch on a great many magnificent things. And what numerous numbers there are! Ashamedly, I have not read much Coleridge before. I knew of him historically speaking, and what he was known for and with whom he hob-knobbed, but I had read little past “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and a few others. Then I landed his Aids to Reflection.
Brilliant, Completely brilliant. Plus, moving—and that last part is important!
As with any good collection of aphorisms—whether from Pascal, Erasmus, Joseph Joubert, Montesquieu etc.—a reader can be informed in all manner of things: philosophy, imagination, morality, spirituality etc. Coleridge covers … well, being human, which is fairly large. But for as many of the thick things he ponders on—often doing so in single sentences which extend for more than a quarter of a page—what has taken the precedence of my attention is my own self reflection. This might sound nice at first, however it wasn’t quite that for me.
If you are human, you have probably had the experience of reading something of an explanatory nature, say psychology, and then upon acquiring knowledge of a specific problem, your mind, quicker than greased lightning, speeds to a family member who “suffers” from this defection? “Oh, yah, [insert person] totally has a problem with being overly assertive,” or “wow, that’s why [insert name] can’t see why they do [insert annoying habit].”
While this demonstrates some ability to reflect, it’s just not quite as good as self reflection. James Schall, the Jesuit scholar, suggests that a true moralizer does not look outward with a critical eye towards the world and its apparent wrongs. No. The true moralizer first looks inside themselves and asks, “how am I making things worse. How am I seeing things wrongly. How am I judging the motivations of others askew”? (When I read this, I was, like, “ouch.”)
And so to Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection.
Right at the start he bangs away on the importance of reflection, on being able to be alone, on thinking, on pondering S L O W L Y. On not just being able to quickly recollect—that’s for novices, he chides. On and on he goes, and the whole time I was like, “yah,” you tell ‘em Coley! You tell modern day people in a age which worships speed of right and proper importance of careful rumination. I should have known that my ego was teetering too tall: like a Jenga tower with its middle hollowed out. Coleridge weighs down on me …
Too many take the ready course to deceive themselves; for they look with both eyes on the failings and defects of others, and scarcely give their good qualities half an eye, while on the contrary, in themselves, they study to the full their own advantages, and their weaknesses and defects, (as one says), they skip over, as children do their hard words in their lesson, that are troublesome to read; and making this uneven parallel, what wonder if the result be a gross mistake of themselves!
While reading Coleridge, this happened more than once for me. And, after the cutting, it was a grand thing. In this complex work, he covers a massive amount. But over and over I found his balancing blade revealing not only what I see at fault in others, but also in me. I highly recommend it. Just tread across the pages with a spirit of humility, because Coleridge’s wit and wisdom cuts everything that stands high.
Source: relief journal – Cut by Coleridge
Posted by Matthew and Joy Steem On February 9, 2017
Not too long ago I was a wandering and weary graduate. Having been in school for over half a decade, my identity had become subsumed with being a student. No one warned me I might feel purposeless and lost after…
Source: Off The Page – Hitchhiker Hospitality