hacking and beauty and truth and listening

2 what do you hear

The industrialised system for schooling, which develops into the industrialised system of work, is not too interested in the slow starter.

The antidote is to become a hacker – to passionately pursue something until it changes our way of thinking, especially when it comes to boundaries, especially boundaries between the seen and the unseen.

We each have the opportunity to bring something beautiful into the world, but it doesn’t always comes straight away.  My friend Leah Robb, when speaking of art, offers this:

‘Beautiful art is not the goal.  Truth is, and not all truth is beautiful.  Truth can hurt.  Truth can rip at your heart, and art must have the ability to do the same.’

Art here is the hard work we undertake towards the beautiful.  I don’t want to leave truth as I find it but to see if it can be transformed.

I happened to read these words at the same time, spoken by Atlas in Jeanette Winterson’s delighting retelling of the Greek myth.  Atlas has taken the weight of the world upon his shoulders, at first crouching “petrified and motionless,” then:

‘At last I began to hear something.  I found that where the world was close to my ears, I could hear everything.  A girl with a limp takes the pails over her shoulders.  I know she limps by the irregular clank of the buckets. … I can hear the world beginning.  Time plays itself back for me.  I can hear the ferns uncurling from their tight rest.  I can hear pools bubbling with life.  I realise I am carrying not only this world, but all possible worlds. … I am carrying the world’s mistakes and its glories.’*

Wherever we are, we can listen; we can hear the truth and respond.  Which brings us back to our hacking: following what we are so passionate about, in the pursuit of which our thinking changes and we can imagine and work for things others cannot.

(From Jeanette Winterson’s Weight.)


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