It is so easy to categorize
them as songs of praise. Take the 150th. What is going on there?
Now I'm not sure. There is a prelude and a postlude; and this
happens, as you know, in several psalms maybe all
told ten; six of them I think are at the end. I think maybe the
psalmist is walking into the center, walking out of nowhere to
the center, and the spotlight is down in the deeps, the single
spot, is on him as he comes in; and I think he turns something
like this and he says: "Praise the Lord"' And then suddenly
the lights come up in the arena slowly, very slowly as the group
begins something like a chant which becomes wilder and wilder
and the lights get brighter and brighter. And as they get brighter
in the arena they dimly come on in the gallery and before they
finish the whole of the coliseum is flooded in light, and in the
midst of the light increasing in intensity the people have risen
to their feet and the noise has increased many, manyfold
until finally it is something like an orgy is going on. And suddenly
at the end, pitch darkness for a second is there and then the
single light comes on the psalmist once again as he walks off
into nothing and he gives the postlude, "Praise the Lord!"
I don't know. Think on this. I think if you don't get the staging
of it we probably never will know what is going on.
Repeat after me...............
I'm slowly reaching the conclusion
that the only conversation you can have on the Psalms; is the
one we piddled with just a little bit, and that is reconstructingno,
that's not right creating the drama that induced
the psalm. Now you will notice that that is exactly the opposite
from our Spirit Conversations. You start with the drama, concrete
drama in your life like Mrs. Elizabeth Black who
was my sixth grade teacher, and the drama of the relationship
of young Joe and Mrs. Black. And you begin that and then push
through it to the transparency; push through it, if you please;
push into it. With the psalm. you start beyond the transparency
and then you have .to create a play that induced this experience.
Nobody ever wrote a play that was not dealing with his own life;
but it is his own life pushed into the universal if he knew what
he was doing. This is again quite the reverse of the Spirit Conversations
in which you begin with the utter particular. Now when you write
this play, sure you are dealing with your own life, but
the universal in the sense of what it means to be human. Hess
brought me this Steppenwolf from Hesse and had underlined this
statement or two:
It was not in my power to
verify the truth of the experiences related in Harry's manuscript.
I have no doubt that they are for the most part fictitious; not,
however, in the sense of arbitrary invention. They are rather
the deeply lived spirit events he has attempted to express by
giving them the form of tangible experiences.
That has said much better what in my stumbling way I have tried to get said about those plays, those dramas we write. I want to say one other word there. I wonder if this is the conversation. Everything else we do is almost direct pedagogy. Maybe I'd better change it: it is directindirect pedagogy other kinds of conversations we have. I'm not quite sure about this, but if we assume that something close to what I've said is correct, then we need to think through the methodology of holding that kind of conversation.-- I don't like that word.