The Wonder Of Wandering
In Defense of Sensuality by John Cowper Powys
Hemingway is reported to have said something like “never confuse movement for action.” A cousin to that line of thought, but going a step beyond, is this quote from novelist, poet, essayist, and lecturer, John Cowper Powys (1872-1963). He was born in England, lived in New York, and died in Wales. In between he traveled extensively, mostly on the lecture tours. He is best remembered for the novels, Wolf Solent, Porius, Weymouth Sands, and A Glastonbury Romance. He left a literary legacy of love and hate. Powys follows in the tracks of Thomas Hardy, especially in featuring the Wessex landscape. Powys had many other influences, yet he transcended them all. His work, even those centered on distant historical events, is quite modern. Some will come to Powys and leave, others will linger, and still others will simply stay. But the key is to read Powys patiently. His prose, sometimes clunky, digressive, and obscure, takes effort. But the payoff is paddling in some of the deepest currents of the human soul.
Here he reminds us that we are not made to do but to be. This is not to say that movement and action are unnecessary. It is to say, however, that the object of all humanity is to contemplate.
“Our rulers at the present day, with their machines and their preachers, are all occupied in putting into our heads the preposterous notion that activity rather than contemplation is the object of life.”