Considering the title of this blog, I thought I'd take J day to explain what exactly I mean by "Joy". I apologize in advance for being rambly, vague or philosophical, and for the heavy use of C. S. Lewis quotes. I sort of think that this is going to be one of those things that you either totally get or don't, which probably just means you're a bit saner than I am. But here goes.
So, for as long as I remember, I've had this kind of passionate, unsatisfied craving thing inside of me that kind of felt too big for my body. The way it comes across in my personality has been called effervescent, which has subsequently become one of my favorite words. Anyway, I've needed, hated, and been confused by this feeling for as long as I've had it. I didn't know why I felt that way, or even what exactly I was feeling. Most of all, I didn't know how to explain it or if anyone else felt anything similar. Then a couple years ago I took a C. S. Lewis class (best class I ever took...at least one of them) and he hit it exactly. I mean EXACTLY. He put into words what I thought was impossible to describe, and suddenly I knew I wasn't alone or crazy.
Here come the C.S. Lewis quotes. He said, "I desired with almost sickening intensity something never to be described." That was my first clue that he knew what I was feeling. Then he defined it perfectly as "that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again. Apart from that, and considered only in its quality, it might almost equally well be called a particular kind of unhappiness or grief. But then it is a kind we want. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is."
So that's what I was feeling. I had a name for it now. Like Lewis said, it is never in our control, though for he and I what often brings it up are memories from the past, nature, intensely deep love for someone, and, a big one for me, art (meaning literature, music, theater, art, etc.) Now I knew why I could watch certain movies and feel like exploding, painfully but gloriously unsatisfied, like watching it again and again would not be enough...I wanted to be the producer, director, actor, every member in the audience, and the movie itself, and still that wouldn't satisfy me. That seems kind of weird to say, but its how I felt, and I felt like Lewis was corroborating me.
Where this feeling, this kind of "Joy," comes from, is where it gets spiritual for me, and you're free to disagree or form your own thoughts about it. But as for Lewis and I, when (in my header quote) he says "meant for another world," he means Heaven. He says, "Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing." He says that the things that bring us this feeling "are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited." This works for me as an explanation. I like the idea that "Joy is the serious business of Heaven."
In terms of creating this in our own art, this is where we can turn to Lewis' good buddy J.R.R. Tolkien. He says "The peculiar quality of the 'joy' in successful Fantasy [any art] can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth." So basically, in his definition Joy comes from accessing or glimpsing the universal Truth or Reality of a thing. He says good art provides "a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart's desire, that for a moment passes outside the frame, rends indeed the very web of story, and let's a gleam come through." I think honesty and vulnerability have a lot to do with getting to this "universal" point.
Anyway, this has already gone on WAY longer than I'm sure any of you time for, but it explains the title of this blog, the two quotes I have in the header, and basically it explains me, if thats not too presumptuous to say. In talking about this I always feel that I haven't done the subject justice in the least, that it would take volumes. I also feel slightly exposed, and kind of hope you do too. Mostly right now I hope, with Lewis' help, that I've explained everything at least somewhat understandably, and that you find help, ideas or corroboration as I did in what Lewis has to say. If I could wish you anything it would be that today, you find joy.
p.s. Several of you mentioned wanting my answers to the questions from yesterday. I was going to post those today, but clearly I've gone on much too long, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow. I know it will be hard, that you are just dying to hear even more about me, but you'll just have to be patient.