an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Monday, September 15, 2008

fall: week two


Galesburg, Wall #4


from the comments below:

> "If I cannot touch (with my
> intelligence)" [quotation from my previous post]

"Reality beyond reality is a reality too far. It sounds like you're seeking out difficulty and creating it when there isn't enough for you." [anonymous comment]


Wait: I'm not presenting a complex personal cosmology I've just pulled out of my head.

All I'm attempting is to write through some of the teaching of the Brothers of St John (the Catholic monastics I've gotten to know over the last two years) and to look at it in light of some of the other stuff that is already in my head. The branches of philosophy that inform Catholic theology--Aristotle, Aquinas, etc.--are a lot less familiar to me than the skeptical traditions of Western philosophy, primarily because whatever I was exposed to in the literary field I chose (Enlightenment thereon) has long since dumped its interest in transcendent or substantial reality (Spirit) for the seemingly more interesting, more complex, more difficult, and more liberating problem of language (Letter).

I'm wondering what happens when you plug it (spirit) back in. Does it necessarily lead to an end of freedom? Does it lead to political narrow mindedness? To social prejudice? To a "school of quietude" and authoritative canons?

But all Christians believe in a reality beyond this reality--as do many mystics and practitioners of other faiths and spiritual traditions. That's nothing new or especially difficult. So I may not understand your question there. If you're asserting there is no God, or no transcendent reality, or whatever, and that I'm just a disgruntled person who wants more than this life offers--and if you're right--then yeah, I'm wasting good time on nothing. And I suppose you are too...

And all those beloved monks...

And yet, when you meet them and get to know them, it's very difficult to believe they are wasting their time. I say "you" but I mean me and all the other people who float around the monastery getting to know them, of course. If their practice is merely escapism, a poultice for a wound, a desire for a cure, I wonder why their escapism brings them so much serenity, why they feel fulfilled, when other forms of escapism can be so psychologically debilitating?

The Brothers' philosophy says the mind (specifically the intelligence) can discover a higher understanding of reality in a judgment of existence, that moment of wonder and awe when I understand that something exists, that "this is." That "you are." I don't yet understand what that means. And so I'm thinking (aloud). And it is hard for me, yes, but I don't think it is needlessly difficult.

On the other side of all this questioning is that simplicity too: "this is." "You are." Present tense. I'm writing towards that.


"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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