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Patrick S. O'Donnell


That sounds about right to me. Indeed, insofar as the Left has been associated with "a constant readiness to grow and learn as an ever-uncertain future," I think we can safely say it reflects a commitment to those intellectual, affective (or psychological), moral and spiritual processes that fall within the rubric of individuation, self-actualization and self-realization which posit or assume open-ended conceptions of human nature if not the letter or spirit of Godwin's notion of perfectibility. I suppose for my part I've always believed (and hope it is true) that "these traditions can be helpfully viewed as the heart's counterpart to the head's leftward-leaning."

Robert Hockett

Sure, Patrick,

And thanks again. For what ever this speculative thought might be worth, it often seems to me that there might be a strong correlation between left-leaningness on the one hand, and humility in respect of our capacities to 'get the rules right' on the other hand. Put somewhat differently, left-leaningness seems to me to be associated with a constant readiness to grow and learn as an ever-uncertain future continually but incrementally makes itself present. It is more 'pragmatic' than dogmatic in temperament (though of course there are exceptions). That in turn lends itself to an open-ended understanding of the guideposts that we refer to in planning and leading our lives - a tendency, perhaps, to think more in terms of 'principles' than 'rules.' Mystical traditions that aim to train and maintain attentiveness to the workings of beauty and love in the world seem to me very nicely to complement that leftward orientation as just described, assuming the description is plausible. Perhaps these traditions can be helpfully viewed as the heart's counterpart to the head's leftward-leaning. My guess would also be that this complementarity will be found particularly evident where ever the mystical and/or poetic tradition in question is associated with a religious tradition that also is law-centered, as of course the Abrahamic traditions tend to be. Perhaps that's why so many of the 'prophets' in these traditions often seem to be more poetic and mystically minded than the 'pharisees' and 'high priests.' But I'm just thinking aloud here - I know there are many exceptions to these broad-brush correlations I'm speculating about. In any event, please keep 'em coming!

All best,

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Thank you Bob.

My (initial) reluctance was owing to the fact that this of course has nothing whatsoever (at least as far as I can ascertain) to do with either the Left or the law (although Sufis have frequently yet wrongly been characterized as 'antinomian' by some of their fellow Muslims as well as others outside the tradition).

And "Warren Emerson" of The Literary Table included us in the site's blogroll BEFORE I became associated with it!

Robert Hockett

Many thanks for this, Patrick. For what it's worth, I'd say it's fine to post such things here too, or at the very least regularly to link to them. Certainly the tradition of Islamic poetry, especially of the mystical variety, is among the richest of the world's many treasures!

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