Rowan Williams on responses to Rodin

I read Rowan Williams’s The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language as part of my 2017 reading list. I meant it to be spiritual reading, but the book was a bit abstruse and technical for me overall. This passage, however, I loved:

Many years ago, I heard a distinguished sculptor saying that he had discovered his vocation when visiting a gallery in his late teens. ‘I knew,’ he said, ‘that there was something missing from that gallery, and it was my work.’ The gallery had been showing a set of exhibition pieces designed to lead up to the work of Rodin; the teenage visitor had sensed that he knew how to go on from Rodin, so that his work would be the obvious next step in a story. You could say that he did not ‘agree’ that Rodin should be where the story ended; but that does not add up to a rejection of Rodin, and that indeed was as far as possible from the younger man’s intention. In his own terms, he had understood Rodin better than anyone who simply looked at Rodin as a phenomenon without any conviction that this was a story in which s/he belonged; sensing a pressure to respond and continue is the mark of understanding what is perceived in this context; not least because sensing such a pressure implies apprehending what is before you as in some sense an address and invitation.

Rowan Williams, The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language, p71.