- A pure hand needs no glove to cover it! [Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Chapter XII: “The Minister’s Vigil” (1851).]
- Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world. [George Bernard Shaw, “Man and Superman, The Revolutionist’s Handbook”: Honor (1922).]
In our model, purification does not mean sterility. It means cleansing the self of bad habits, practices and actions, and their accompanying guilt, shame and self-flagellation.
- Claire Dederer, Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010): the author tells how yoga helped her escape an addiction to perfectionism, a story that many people will see as ironic. For her, this was a path to purification.
- François Boucher, Diana Getting Out of Her Bath (1742)
- Johannes Vermeer, Diana and Her Companions (1653)
Film and Stage
- The Man Without a Past: losing all memory of his past is like the Buddhist admonition to empty our cups; the film is about “losing memories but gaining life”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
When my niece married in the Pocono region of Pennsylvania one autumn afternoon during the height of autumn foliage display, she had asked that I bring some of my CD collection to play during the afternoon. When “Edi Beo Thu Hevene Quene,” from Anonymous 4’s splendid “An English Ladymass” album sounded above the golds and reds of the autumn leaves on that gorgeous day, I knew that this music had created a special memory not only for my niece but also for the many guests who came by to ask “what is that!” Anonymous 4, a female a capella group, has achieved an ethereal purity of sound, in keeping with their chosen repertoire of chant and polyphony from medieval England.
- “An English Ladymass” album
- “A Lamass Ladymass” album
- “The Lily & the Lamb” album
- “1000: A Mass for the end of Time” album
- Hildegard of Bingen, “The Origin of Fire” album
- Hildegard of Bingen, “Eleven Thousand Virgins” album
- “Secret Voices” album
- “Love’s Illusion” album
- “Marie et Marion” album
- “Wolcum Yule” album
- “The Cherry Tree” album
- Richard Einhorn, “Voices of Light” album
- “Four Centuries of Chant”
- Taverner, “The Bridegroom” and other works, album
As performed by Bach Collegium Japan, with soloists, under Masaaki Suzuki’s direction, Bach’s sacred cantatas sound pure, unadorned and almost ascetic.
Mediae Aetatis Sodalicium, “Dum clamaren: Dolore e speranza nel Canto Gregoriano” album
Performed by Lama Tashi, Tibetan chant also conveys the idea of purification.
Another take on purity is Catherine Lamb’s distillation of the string quartet form to its bare essence, as in her String Quartet, “Two Blooms” (2009).
I knew a man, a common farmer, the father of five sons, / And in them the fathers of sons, and in them the fathers of sons.
This man was a wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person, / The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and beard, the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes, the richness and breadth of his manners, / These I used to go and visit him to see, he was wise also, / He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old, his sons were massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome, / They and his daughters loved him, all who saw him loved him, / They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal love, / He drank water only, the blood show'd like scarlet through the clear-brown skin of his face, / He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sail'd his boat himself, he had a fine one presented to him by a ship-joiner, he had fowling-pieces presented to him by men that loved him, / When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons to hunt or fish, you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of the gang, / You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.
[Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1891-92), Book IV: Children of Adam, “I Sing the Body Electric” (3).]