Wednesday, May 30, 2007

are you listening?

An article in today's New York Times follows from the premise that what defines art is not a quality inherent in the work but in how you look at it. This time it's a composer named Christopher DeLaurenti (here's his website) who has released a CD of recordings he made during orchestral concert intermissions. ("The Concerts Found Onstage While Everyone Else Takes a Break" by Daniel J. Wakin.)

It's an aesthetic argument made in art by Duchamp, and in music by John Cage. I think they're right and I make the same argument in religion. Scripture is everywhere, not inherent in the writing itself but in the reader. It's what I call "found scripture" like found art, the random messages we encounter every day that we can read as personal scripture by experiencing them as revelations of divine wisdom, just as found pieces of trash can be art, and found pieces of random noise can be music.

By the way, I don't mean by this that we invent the meaning we read in the messages of found scripture. The meaning is really there. The universe is constantly speaking its wisdom through every available outlet. The act of interpretation required to extract the meaning is simply what we mean by reading, and it's exactly the same act whether we're reading the Bible or a billboard.

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