And as I re-read these sections, I remembered why I fell so quickly for these thoughts -- for the understanding of being as something at-work -- the understanding of essence as that being-at-work, and of the intention of the essential as the being-at-work-staying-itself. When I first read this book I was in the middle of the most fruitful intellectual times I had ever known -- peak condition one might say. I remember sitting in discussion -- it wasn't sitting though, for there was such an indescribable sense of forces beyond -- funny thing to say about a classroom.
But those moments of discussion, I felt something that really was like the reaching beyond. And I remember that although Aristotle was 'the biologist' of the bunch, he was the one that, for me, came closest to painting the picture of being -- the true and accurate picture. Or at least as accurate as possible.
The readings for that term were so well-designed -- we were reading the Old Testament alongside Aristotle, and then Augustine and Descartes, and then Hume and Kant and then more Kant and Kierkegaard and finally Nietzsche. An along the way I was reading CS Lewis and George MacDonald and Dostoevsky and Woolf and Proust. And it was such a brilliant bunch!
I did some writing during that time, analog writing which I translated to a digital format before. But it still speaks so resonantly to me now -- things I want to talk about with someone -- someone who has done these readings, or other readings, or no readings -- maybe just someone who can see some handhold in this mess, this mass. I wrote:
Isn't the problem in resisting and hesitating because one wants to hold on to the potential self as seen from the outside? When we force the 'I' which is not clear or distinct to be a sort of precious jewel handled judiciously or flashed strategically, we cut the life out of it -- sever it from its root, its connection to every life-giving element of nature, every formative element of the environment. There is a cleft as the person grows away from her root and into her being, but there is no formal sundering. To do so is to rob yourself entirely, to dash away all those rich hues which alone can constitute personality.
Is it not better to rest yourself in something so final, so ultimate, so entire, that all that is required is to turn inward, to gaze at the core which disappears into a coruscation of light flooding in from the true root. We all open out through one cause and close up on it as well. There is no other way to be.
There is no hard self, it's a throbbing, living, rich and mysterious thing. It is neither of the present nor of the past, nor of the future -- it is of all, throbbing through all. It is both the single unit and the helpless part. It demands and needs. It takes and pulls and pries, but it gives and rests and lies still. It is a core and an anchor and it is a moment and a bit of ephemera. It is dark and earthy, it is clear and stellar. It is a blessed thing we have and it is blessed because it is thus.
'I am that I am,' He said, and we are blessed to be able to say that we are as He has made us.
When man seeks to reach out beyond the mystery that is part of his essence, he is seeking perversity, unnaturalness, cold and sterile non-existence. Whether or not there are other ways of existence is a question that is itself a mystery -- something to tell tales of and create stories about. They are not things to be achieved.
When man tries to 'perfect' himself he is trying to stab out the dirt of existence that is truth. Do not hide. Do not fool yourself with your own mask -- a protective device that wounds its wearer just as quickly as it fools the observer. There is a darkness, wetness, fertility. There is blood and bone and flesh. There is also mind, Reason (whatever that may be) and thought.
But this is the triumph and the misery -- the ecstasy and the agony -- as much as one so divided may feel. We yearn to be pure, free, united and no longer at civil war, and in so yearning we fall, again and again and again -- there is disobedience in that childish, stubborn refusal to accept. What we are to accept is that we are in this state through fault of our own! It is a choice made at the individual level by one who by nature wills, chooses, decides. The 'by nature' part is tricky and seems to mean that our hand in committing the fault was forced -- and for what reason?
We always ask how we might be better, more excellent, more perfect, but we never allow ourselves to just dwell.
What does this word mean after all? Darkness, closeness, length of time -- we must dwell in our mysteries, fold them about us like great wraps of velvet, like great fogs of scent, like deep glades of green. And as we dwell we must continue to live -- to be surficial as well, to skate and glide and dance, to flit and gleam and shine.
Our mysteries prove the necessity of our life -- we continue to shine forth as organisms because we dip down to that endless well, those 'fonds' of Leibniz -- because our mystery is in that connection -- in why we are permitted to drink ever so deep and bloom forth from those draughts.
I sit here -- heady with the scent of the peonies, awash in words. I was earlier aglow with the amber light creating webs between my fingers. Why do we crave discovery so greatly? We want to root it all out, bring it to the air, kill it with our breath of reason.
What a feeble thing that clear light seems now, now, against the pure light of truth. The shallow but penetrating clarity of light; the deep and secret, perhaps dangerous, depth of heat -- cool, sharp clarity & warm, languid depth -- the well is both -- both deep and embracing and fertile -- life-giving -- and it is cool, active, lit with rays and fierce in its essence. We try so hard to do the fusion on our own, to combine within one person the facets of being which we can glimpse.
Oh that writing -- where did it come from? From whom did it come? Could that really have been something I scrawled in a journal? I see so much there -- Aristotle and Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and Kant -- and of course Lewis also.
But that was not from today, for there were no new discoveries this week -- no new connections. Today and this week was not like that term two years ago. We didn't even approach the facade -- one hour given to this book -- one hour.