Thursday, September 27, 2012

T.S. ELIOT & Incubating Eggs

I woke several hours before dawn this morning - love the quiet that accompanies that time of day. Nothing jars. The still-sleeping world assumes a soft, benevolent shape, displays its post-dream textures in rounded, rested edges. Waking early feels like an occasion for gratitude, more prompt than disturbance - something's here, ready and waiting; a conversation to be pondered; a phrase to jot down or idea to sketch into the notebook beside my bed.

In our online post-breakfast (for me)/post-lunch (for them) conversation today, two friends and I found ourselves discussing the nature and importance of pace, space and incubation periods. I was reminded of a post I'd scanned on Brainpickings a couple of hours earlier that began with this quote

“We do not know until the shell breaks what kind of egg we have been sitting on.”

and continued with an inspiring paragraph from T. S. Eliot's essay on Idea Incubation, and the Mystical Quality of Creativity (as cited in Rosamund E.M. Harding's 1942 volume An Anatomy of Inspiration. Don't we all want a copy?).

T. S. Eliot was born on 26 September 1888 - 124 years ago yesterday. Read Maria Popova's acknowledgment of him on her wondrous, lively and endlessly stimulating blog Brainpickings. If you haven't already discovered her, you have a treat in store. . . 

This morning she also posted a rare recording of Eliot reading THE LOVE SONG of J. ALFRED PRUFROCK


  1. Why is it that incubating appears to take longer than laying?

  2. Hmm. Because it's in the incubation period that the whole mysterious 'thing' is put together? All its simplicity, complexity, peculiarities and potentials. . . ? Laying and incubating are two equally essential fine-tuning processes but I suspect is during incubation that we learn patience? Ha, yes. . . ever-elusive patience!

    Your thoughts, Ant? ; )

  3. As a perfect example and I'll be back to re-write it, just attempted to post a somewhat lengthy response, which took longer to think about than write, when I was defeated by Blogger which gave me letters that do not actually exist and then responded to my second attempt by deleting it.

    Back to the drawing board;)

  4. Isn't that the way, Ant. . . letters that do not exist. I'm curious, though - are you asked to tap in a code when leaving messages? If so, I need to change my settings. (Away with Hindering Things. . . : ))

  5. Precisely!:)
    Yes. A thorough knowledge of cryptography is now required to leave comments. On mine too.
    When did Blogger start to impede expression and thought?

  6. Eurgh - blogger just ate my last comment, too! I will try again ---

  7. Okay, what I was saying was this. . .

    I have taken to creating my own alphabets lately. I used to do this as a child (wrote whole books in some strange cryptography that even I can't decipher now) and feel a need to do so again. So much seems to defy language these days - at least as we know it. Perhaps I'll start posting messages out here some time, see if they make sense to anyone. I love the image aspect of codes, don't you? They exist as images/an art form in their own right. I love that about them - it almost doesn't matter if we understand them intellectually or not because they communicate entirely on another level. Not only are they visually alluring, they take us beyond our usual limitations. I guess there's the risk that if I start posting blogs in code, people might wonder if I've lost the plot?! So saying, I don't know about you, but I am finding increasingly difficult to separate 'losing' from 'finding' these days - they seem somehow synonymous, don't you reckon?

    I'm off to check out my comments setting.