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Tag Archives: Maurice Merleau Ponty

Hope

The line that stands out in the following poem is the one about hopelessness being that when we turn our back on the world it is snatched away. Czeslaw Milosz wrote wonderfully and tied belief and hope together.

The French phenomenologist and philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote about how we perceive the world. What exists between us and the world is our flesh, which forms a sensuous boundary between the internal and external worlds we simultaneously co-inhabit.

It is through all our senses we experience and remember the world. In turn, it experiences and remembers us, but we have to believe it does. There is a fidelity, a trust, that exists for those experiences to be true and believed.

We bind ourselves to the world, the universe, and the divine, not through blindness, but through unproveable faith. Paradoxically, it is through believing we do not have to prove this faith that we accept the world and it, along with others and things exist even when we do not see them, even when they are not immediately within the range of our senses.

Hope is with you when you believe
The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
That sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
That all things you have ever seen here
Are like a garden looked at from a gate.

You cannot enter. But you’re sure it’s there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange new flower and an unnamed star.

Some people say we should not trust our eyes,
That there is nothing, just a seeming,
These are the ones who have no hope.
They think that the moment we turn away,
The world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
As if snatched up by the hands of thieves.

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Wild Geese

Mary Oliver wrote this beautiful poem about sensing and perceiving Nature through direct experiences. Maurice Merleau Ponty wrote about the phenomenology of perception which is the about the way body and its senses act as gateways in perceiving the world. Our body is not an only a thing, it is an object that researches the world.

When we “the soft animal of your body” experience and sense Nature, we are in Nature. We have images for our imagination that fill our hearts and souls so fully. We belong in ways that we cannot as an observer standing outside. We are part of a community that includes all of Nature.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

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