One of my favourite pieces. I've yet to get around to Brian Boyd's book, but it looks like you favour his (second) view on the problem of 'internal authorship' here, was wondering if that's changed since or if I'm wrong? Personally, I believe I'll always be too ignorant to have a settled view on the matter, I like to keep a reverential apophatic silence before the mystery of the book.

I'm also glad you mentioned Erik Eklund in the last post, I wanted to ask you about him for a while. I started reading his publications a few months ago, which are the first works if Nabokov scholarship I've read, and found them greatly enriching.

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My offering of agreement:


Beauty surrounds me like a benevolent posse,

tracking me to this canyon hideout,

determined to take me

here and now,

smoke me out with a mountain honeysuckle breeze,

lure me with a square-dance of dust devils,

or wait until dark to distract me with an ivory forest fire on the canyon's rim,

glowing brighter, brighter 'til it gives way to the moon's sharp edge,

silently entering the night sky, unaware of its own grandeur

or how it is warping spacetime or that even the

great oceans are moved by its majesty,

and, as if I could hold out against this barrage,

the conspirators have backup plans to insure my capture:

the brook has added my name to its unending, ever-changing song,

and snowmelt is encouraging the waterfall's ovation,

so now it ricochets 'round the giant canyon walls,

as the water sprites fill the whole place

to the brim;

a pair of eagles circle, calling, as if to say, "It's over, kid.

Give it up, this life on the run. You know you want to be caught!"

At first light, I come out with my hands up.

"No more," I yell.

"You win."

David Newton Baker


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Lovely writing and story. As a fervent lover of observing nature, these experiences leave an impact.

Unfortunately, my mind seems to be obsessed with the question of why "natural evil", especially predation, is the "modus operandi" of our created order. As I grow older, I recoil more and more at the coldness of animal death and suffering in nature, despite my increasing fascination with all animal life. I'm increasingly skeptical of the eschatological imagery of the carnivores (fitted with specialized digestive systems and teeth specifically for meat) would "lie down" with the benign herbivore. To state it perhaps pejoratively: why would the Judeo-Christian God design the overwhelming amount of the animal kingdom to subsist on cruel violence to then reverse it as though it was something horrid all along?

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A dreadful crime against the beauty of nature and its mystery, having been committed by a child who had just learned to stand by herself and began to walk, was the firm promise for falling far down into the unknown eternity forever. In a garden, she separated the beautiful wings from a butterfly. At that moment, a whole mechanical world fell apart. Seeing *it* walk on the ground, she was frightened by her act and cried, cried, cried. The manual teaching can tell her as grown, as old, as near-death, or as in any state, contrition, love, and being forgiven. Neither natural selection nor intelligent design provide a consolation. But, being and beautiful, enigmatically and mystically, beyond all and within all at the same time, that is only, because that would be.

I liked your post.

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Apr 30·edited Apr 30

Speaking of serendipity, how nice to see a reference to Poems and Problems on the very day that we have a new chess world champion, or at least a new “FIDE champion .” As I recall, I have not previously seen any passing allusions suggesting that you are a wood pusher. Are you, and does your admiration of VN extend to his non-lexical compositions?

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On a lighter note, Dr. Hart, have you heard the Netherlands Bach Society’s recently released interpretation of BWV 1052R? It’s fantastic.

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I know you despise Carl Jung, but your encounter is a good example of his concept of synchronicity. He had a similar experience with a beetle.

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Thank you for this post! I thoroughly enjoyed it! I recently read a book, Beauty: A Theological Engagement with Gregory of Nyssa, by Natalie Carnes. She mentions the significance of your work, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth. She uses the themes of fittingness and gratuity to show Gregory's Trinitarian vision of beauty. Your reference in this post to, "the sheer surfeit of the beautiful over the needful," reminded me of the theme of 'gratuity' in her work. I'm curious to know if you have read her work, and if so, your thoughts on her interpretation of Gregory's view of beauty.

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