A Reverence for Wood
Taking up Eric Sloane’s A Reverence for Wood after a reading of Plato’s Republic is no simple task. The last chapter taught us to see the Republic anew as a philosophical work of art. Indeed, it was Plato’s own text that effected this “turning around.” Whether we read the Republic as philosophy or as art, however, A Reverence for Wood still looks very different. So do the apparent aims of their authors. Sloane’s mission was more restrained, more humble, we dare say, than Plato’s. Yet, Sloane is more similar to Plato than he first appears. He wrote from a passion for wood—with a marvelous focus on small objects. And he was a real working artist. He did not write explicitly about Justice and the Good, or about the nature of truth and reality. But he, too, set about to question how we live and offered some practical insights that turn out to be fundamentally Platonic. Both are calling (or recalling) us to a way of life that is at once extraordinary and every day. Both visions also differ from what we might otherwise take them to be. Plato is not a rationalist, after all; Sloane (as we shall see) is no mere antiquarian.
KeywordsApple Tree Formal Quality Golf Club Contemplative Practice Tree Limb
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.