Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Half-Remarkable Question

"The Sybil In Wonderland"
Philosophers and artists have this in common: they deal with the big questions. Post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin's wrestling with the big questions probably contributed to leaving the Paris arts scene to take up residence in Tahiti where one of his most significant works was painted, "Where Did We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" These really are life's big questions, and it is a good thing when they stir in us. Not so good when we lock them away in the recesses of our souls. (Some philosophical ponderers deny the existence of "soul", but that is another discussion.)

There are many ways of looking at the world. There is the scientific/objective method and there are a variety of mystical methods. For some reason, our schools favor the scientific, but it would be more honest to acknowledge that a majority of history has found humanity captivated by mystical interpretations of the nature of reality and the meaning of life. "Why am I here?" is a seriously profound question that no rock or plant or salamander or wildcat asks, as far as I know. Where does this question come from? And where does the idea of good come from? Or the idea of God? Rene Descartes, who himself did a lot of thinking about the big questions, stated, "The thought of God is the Maker's mark on us."

When The Incredible String Band performed at Woodstock--as foreign and original their sound--the Scottish psychedelic folk band made an impact.

I was introduced to the group by a friend who had been to Woodstock the previous year, and over the next few years acquired several of their albums including I Looked Up and Wee Tam and The Big Huge. "The Half-Remarkable Question" made an impact on me as an addendum to the other philosophical questions swirling through my head at that time. The questions remain good ones, whether posed by artists or philosophers.

The Half-Remarkable Question

Who moved the black castle
Who moved the white queen
When Gimme and Daleth where standing between?

Out of the evening growing a veil
Pining for the pine woods that ached for the sail
There's something forgotten I want you to know
The freckles of rain they are telling me so

Oh, it's the old forgotten question
What is it that we are part of?
And what is it that we are?

And an elephant madness has covered the sun
The judge and the juries they play for the fun
They've torn up the roses and washed all the soap
And the martyr who marries them dares not elope

Oh, it's the never realized question
What is it that we are part of?
And what is it that we are?

Oh long, oh long ever yet my eyes
Braved the gates enormous fire
And the body folded 'round me
And the person in me grew

The flower and its petal
The root and its grasp
The earth and its bigness
The breath and its gasp

The mind and its motion
The foot and its move
The life and its pattern
The heart and its love

Oh, it's the half-remarkable question
What is it that we are part of?
And what is it that we are?

1 comment:

My Inner Chick said...


I've often wondered why people ponder those questions their entire lives when I feel I have known undeniably since I was 5 years old!

"Why am I here?" "What is the meaning of life?" "What is my purpose?"

To Seek God, of course!

Great post.