Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's a Good Infection

Don't you love it when things you read or hear from a variety of sources end up having the same message?  Sometimes I wonder if it is just because I am already thinking along those lines that I "see" the same thoughts in something I am reading.  In this case, two authors from totally different genres and perspectives used exactly the same term, but illustrating it a bit differently: Brenda Ueland wrote If You Want To Write in 1938; still in print today, still considered a classic go-to book for writers.  Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, also still in print and considered a classic in Christian literature and theology, was written in 1943. Miss Ueland's book is more toward the liberal, artistic, creative self-expression side.  C.S. Lewis writes with intellectual, logical expression, and seeks to glorify and honor the Lord Jesus Christ with his life and words.
Their common subject? Infection.  We can catch (and share) good things as well as bad things from others.

Miss Ueland's chapter, Art is Infection, quotes quite a bit from Tolstoy.  How am I to condense Tolstoy and Ueland (and C.S. Lewis) into a short blog post?
 "Art is infection.  The artist has a feeling and he expresses it and at once this feeling infects other people and they have it too," said Tolstoy.  When Miss Ueland taught her writing classes, she told her students, "...if you want to write, for example, about a man who is suffering from boredom, just quietly describe what your own feelings are when you have been bored.  Don't say the boredom was 'agonizing, excruciating,' unless your own boredom was, which is doubtful." 
 "I saw in their writing how whenever a sentence came from the true self and was felt, it was good, alive, it infected one no matter what the words were, no matter how ungrammatical or badly arranged they were.  But when the sentence was not felt by the writer, it was dead.  No infection."

This reminds me of an art lesson we had once.  If you are attempting to draw an eye, it is natural for us to draw the image we see in our head.

 To convey a true eye, an artist would draw every shadow, shade, line, wrinkle, hair, reflection of light, color, shape and freckle that would appear as the true-to-life eye of a specific person or animal, not a preconceived concept.
Don't you want to melt when you look at these eyes?

Or laugh when you look at these?

C.S. Lewis calls his chapter, Good Infection. He says, "Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prizes which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone.  They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united with God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?"
" He [Jesus] came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has--by what I call 'good infection.'"

Infection is a term we tend to think of in preconceived terms, catching something we do not want.  These authors and thinkers use infection as a good thing, something we want to spread to others, whether it is art, as in a drawing or the written word; or in our faith in the Lord Jesus, wanting to infect others with the love and joy and peace of the Lord.
Catch something good today. Draw close to the Lord, absorb some of His joy and peace and love. Look around you and see, really see the people and scenes.  Feel the emotions, not in a generic sense, but as perceptively as you can.

This is getting long, but one more thing.  Michael Hyatt, an author, and the Chairman of Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing company, has a website available to bloggers using social media. Bloggers read the new books and write a review to post on their personal blogs, twitter or facebook.  As they looked for an appropriate, catchy title, the publishers came up with this phrase,
                          "Great Books are Contagious."

                            Their website?

A HUGE thank you to littlebitzofart for her articulate drawings.

1 comment:

  1. Writing from the true self...good infection. I really like this, Maureen! Thank you. I read it quickly this morning and just came back to it as I could see there was so much to absorb. Beautiful art work as well.