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My Secret Garden

My Secret Garden

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Published by davidwalters
Everyone should have a secret garden to which they may retreat for repose. This is one of mine, the meaning of which shall remain secret to most readers.
Everyone should have a secret garden to which they may retreat for repose. This is one of mine, the meaning of which shall remain secret to most readers.

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Published by: davidwalters on Jun 06, 2012
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06/04/2013

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MY SECRET GARDEN
BYDAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
 
The groves of Eden, vanish’d now so long,Live in description, and look green in song:These, were my breast inspir’d with equal flame,Like them in beauty, should be like in fame.Here hills and vales, the woodland and the plain,Here earth and water, seem to strive again;Not Chaos like together crush'd and bruis'd,But as the world, harmoniously confus'd:Where order in variety we see,And where, tho' all things differ, all agree.(Alexander Pope)
 
 
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For Cathy DellingerIn
The Chinese Origin of a Romanticism,
Arthur O. Lovejoy, the American philosopher whoinvented ‘the history of ideas” approach to understanding intellectual evolution, described theChina Cult that became fashionable amongst literate Europeans from the late sixteenth until thelate eighteenth century, and it relationship to English gardens designed with a “Sharawadgi”effect. The European mind was illuminated by exotic lights as its agents explored the globe, heexplained. Jesuit missionaries and other travelers to China reported back to Europe; everythingChinese was soon in vogue. Intellectuals who examined the Jesuit journals, travelogues andclassics of China were convinced that the Chinese system of government was far superior to theirown: China is governed by wise philosophers; offices are open to all men of merit; not only areofficials punished for misconduct, good conduct is amply rewarded; China is not interested inconquering or exploiting other nations; the object of government is public tranquility.Furthermore, the Chinese ethic is superior to that of Europe: its sole object is the perfection of moral conduct.Gottlieb Leibniz had said, during his discussion of the discovery of binary arithmetic by theprimeval emperor Fu-His, "It is indeed apparent that if we Europeans were well enough informedof Chinese literature, then, with the aid of logic, critical thinking, mathematics and our manner of expressing thought—more exacting than theirs—we could uncover in the Chinese writings of theremotest antiquity many things unknown to modern Chinese and even to other commentatorsthought to be classical."Europeans, thought Leibniz, were superior to the Chinese in the abstract sciences, while, on theother hand, the Chinese excelled in the practical philosophy of civil life: "Be it said with almostshame—we are beaten by them... in the principles of Ethics and Politics. For it is impossible todescribe how beautifully everything in the laws of the Chinese, more than in those of otherpeoples, is directed to the achievement of public tranquility...."The allegations of Chinese superiority in anything at all absent Jesus did not sit well with thosewho believed that Jesus was the one and only Way. The fact that Jesuits were traipsing aroundChina in local robes and allowing the placement of tablets dedicated to Shang Ti (highest god) inCatholic churches did not help matters any. The Jesuits were employing their usual strategy towin over pagans. The enticed the Chinese with Western science: once the Asians were hooked onit, out came the Holy Bible; many influential Chinese Confucians became Catholics. To maintainthe dignity of the converts, an argument was made that the Chinese highest god was identicalwith the Judeo-Christian one-god, perhaps even invented for the Chinese by the Hebrews of old.The Confucian rites were the fly in the ointment, so the Jesuits argued that the rituals were reallynot religious rites but were simply civil ceremonies showing due respec to the dead; the Popebegged to differ; the Emperor of China was angered and issued a decree; the Jesuits weresuppressed in Europe; or so the tale goes.Violent Western disorders moved Europeans to wax enthusiastic about the Chinese politicalorder. The public symbol of imperial Chinese order, that of square Earth in harmony with roundHeaven, or squaring the circle, was certainly comforting, but not entirely so; for Europeans,notwithstanding their disorders, had their own insufferable square-thinking and archaic molds,
 
 
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hence they turned to the popular conception of the Chinese secret or private garden as anasymmetric, romantic work of art, resembling wild nature, to relieve their distress.
Symmetrical Temple of Heaven
Lovejoy noticed that "A turning-point in the history of modern taste was reached when the idealsof regularity, simplicity, uniformity, and easy logical intelligibility, were first openly impugned,when the assumption that true beauty is 'geometrical' ceased to be one to which 'all consented, asto a Law of Nature.' And in England, at all events, the rejection of this assumption seems,throughout most of the eighteenth century, to have been commonly recognized as initially due tothe influence and the example of Chinese art."Furthermore, in eighteenth century art, “regularity, uniformity, clearly recognizable balance andparallelism came to be regarded as capital defects in a work of art, and irregularity, asymmetry,variety, surprise, an avoidance of the simplicity and unity which render a whole designcomprehensible at a glance, took rank as aesthetic virtues of a high order.”These “natural” virtues, most evident in natural landscape paintings and the “natural” style of English gardens associated with the admiration for the ornamented Chinese garden, and Chinesearchitecture, were applied to other art forms including literature. That is, Sinomania or the Chinacraze strongly influenced the Romantic-Gothic trend. The key word, although it may not be of oriental origin, is
Sharawadgi
, meaning a Chinese form of asymmetrical art.So-called
Sharawadgi
is employed today in postmodern "acousmatic” music and "acousticecology," where the metaphorical garden is a soundscape. The soundscape may not be of anatural order, as it is, for example, in movies like Snow White and The Huntsman, where theharmonious soundtrack correlates with wild, natural scenes. The city itself, the
gard 
, emphasizesthe artificial aspect of an enclosed garden; paradises are sometimes portrayed as utopian cities if not concrete jungles; cities of god, the best places short of heaven, where the native wildness of humankind and its artifacts are not entirely restrained, where everyone can be happy and live inbliss despite occasional discordance. Composer Claude Schryer strives for the
Sharawadgi

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