Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grafted Thought

I wrote a post back in January for one of my own blogs that happened to cover the same interpretation of Jacob 5 that Dr. Burton voiced in class. As it clearly connects with Milton's Areopagetica, I've refined my thoughts on this since then, but reposted it unedited below so you can see how I encountered it. Feel free to drop by for more like this.

In David Brooks’ The Social Animal, he cites Benjamin Bloom as saying, “the effect of [the] first phase of learning seemed to be to get the learner involved, captivated, hooked and to get the learner to need and want more information and expertise,” and explains that this first phase doesn’t have to be particularly brilliant. When I read that today, I imagined neurological pathways connecting and growing like roots, limbs and twigs, and I imagined these microscopic branches being pruned and grafted. Being a Mormon, I understandably thought of the allegory of the olive trees in the Book of Mormon as this short narrative is the longest work on husbandry I’ve ever read.

One thing lead to another, and I found myself thinking of how an allegory signifying and prophesying about the diaspora and the cycles of dispensation and apostasy–penned by an almost forgotten Israelite prophet–might relate to the seven assumptions I penned for the Ships of Hagoth “About” page. I suspect there are several possible connections, but the seventh assumption cried out first for grafting:

Analysis based on the spiritual and often unconscious roots of a creative work does not render either the conscious intent or other unconscious drives–as described by Marx, Jung, Freud, Foucault, etc.–as invalid or inconsequential, but rather situates those motives within a holistic, eternal context.

When I turned to the allegory with this in mind, the following verses stood out:

Wherefore, let us take of the branches of these which I have planted in the nethermost parts of my vineyard, and let us graft them into the tree from whence they came; and let us pluck from the tree those branches whose fruit is most bitter, and graft in the natural branches of the tree in the stead thereof.

And this will I do that the tree may not perish, that, perhaps, I may preserve unto myself the roots thereof for mine own purpose.

And, behold, the roots of the natural branches of the tree which I planted whithersoever I would are yet alive; wherefore, that I may preserve them also for mine own purpose, I will take of the branches of this tree, and I will graft them in unto them. Yea, I will graft in unto them the branches of their mother tree, that I may preserve the roots also unto mine own self, that when they shall be sufficiently strong perhaps they may bring forth good fruit unto me, and I may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard.

And it came to pass that they took from the natural tree which had become wild, and grafted in unto the natural trees, which also had become wild.

And they also took of the natural trees which had become wild, and grafted into their mother tree.

And the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Pluck not the wild branches from the trees, save it be those which are most bitter; and in them ye shall graft according to that which I have said.

And we will nourish again the trees of the vineyard, and we will trim up the branches thereof; and we will pluck from the trees those branches which are ripened, that must perish, and cast them into the fire.

And this I do that, perhaps, the roots thereof may take strength because of their goodness; and because of the change of the branches, that the good may overcome the evil.

There are certainly philosophical fruits of Marx, Jung, Freud, Foucault and the rest that I find extremely bitter and wild. But as Brooks, Bloom and Jacob point out, divine learning comes line upon line, precept upon precept. My initial reaction to some branches of traditional literary theory was that they were fit to be burned, but I’ve since concluded they may yet bear tame, sweet fruit once grafted into the mother tree God planted in the Garden of Eden.

Visit the Applied Theory category page to taste the fruits of my amateur theoretical grafting. Thornfield, the Lone and Dreary Waste andRomancing the Apostasy are two of my favorites so far.

1 comment:

  1. One idea that I've come back to over and over as I've read these verses is а concept referred to in Russian as "the great relocation of the nations." Wikipedia calls it just "the Migration Period" in English, but to sum up my thoughts on the matter, basically, around 600 BC, all sorts of influential thinkers and reformers popped up all around the world (and all within about 100 years of each other). We're talking Lao Tzu, Lehi, Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jeremiah, and a number of other highly influential spiritual and social thinkers. I don't think it's coincidence, and in fact, I think it's a literal fulfillment of Jacob 5:8, 11, i.e. that it grieved God to lose the tree (a word that in its linguistic origins comes from the same word as true or truth), so He thus scattered it among the most nether parts of the vineyard.