"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"One sheds one's sicknesses in books,"

Plato said that the muses gave us the arts not for "mindless pleasure" but "as an aid to bringing our soul-circuit, when it has got out of tune, into order and harmony with itself". It's no coincidence that Apollo is the god of both poetry and healing; nor that hospitals or health sanctuaries in ancient Greece were invariably situated next to theatres, most famously at Epidaurus, where dramatic performances were considered part of the cure. When Odysseus is wounded by a boar, his companions use incantations to stop the bleeding. And the Bible has the story of David calming Saul: "And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."


Bibliotherapy, at the Guardian. Reminds me of a friend whose method for recovering from a painful breakup was to read all of Shakespeare. He was better halfway through.

3 comments:

Kay Sexton said...

Wonderful. Reminds me of when I was part of a women's online collective and we were asked to suggest books to help a member through a failed love affair. Everybody else suggested self-help tomes - I thought she should read The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor and The Magician's Assistant by Anne Patchett!

Zen of Writing said...

I'd definitely suggest some fiction to sink your teeth into, either lighthearted or not, depending on the person. Kate Atkinson, Iris Murdoch, David Mitchell, Dostoyevsky.

OutOfContext said...

Words are the physicians of a diseased mind. (Aeschylus)


Words got me the wound, words will get me better. (Jim Morrison)


Words, of course, are the most powerful drugs known to mankind.
(Rudyard Kipling)

Some quotes I posted recently...My guess Kipling's drugs are narcotic rather than healing, but in light of your post I will reconsider.