Recently some friends of the Cornerstone Forum spent an hour with Gil Bailie in a group Skype call in which Gil shared a short draft excerpt from his current writing project. The excerpt was entitled ‘Conversion’ and introduced two examples. One was the experience related by Bob Dylan in his 2017 Noble prize acceptance speech of Dylan’s adolescent identification with Buddy Holly, and the other described the story of O. E. Parker and the carnival tattooed-man from the Flannery O’Connor short story, Parker’s Back.
Gil’s draft text ended with the quotation below
What is a person without a life-form, that is to say, without a form which he has chosen for his life, a form into which and through which to pour out his life, so that his life becomes the soul of the form and the form becomes the expression of his soul? For this is no extraneous form, but rather so intimate a one that it is greatly rewarding to identify oneself with it. Nor is it a forcibly imposed form, rather one which has been bestowed from within and has been freely chosen. Nor, finally, is it an arbitrary form, rather that uniquely personal one which constitutes the very law of the individual. Whoever shatters this form by ignoring it is unworthy of the beauty of Being, and he will be banished from the splendor of solid reality as one who has not passed the test. Thus, while physically he remains alive, such a person decays to expressionlessness and sterility, is like the dry wood which is gathered in the Gospel for burning. But if man is to live in an original form, that form has first to be sighted. One must possess a spiritual eye capable of perceiving the forms of existence with awe.Hans Urs Von Balthasar