some say: brilliance is a fleeting cosmic event, a shooting star. its origin is a matrix of factors both unknown and unrepeatable; they will call it: inspiration. brilliance, they say, is not for the taking; it is first prize in life's lottery.
the brilliant know better. desire ignites the brilliant, it agitates their veins, and shoots them through life's path like a burning comet. faith in ability paves the pathways of their pasts; surety of success lights their way ahead. they willingly submit to the desire to be brilliant, to be consumed in desire's flame. brilliance, then, is not chance's favour; it is the award for 'best in show'.
Whatever seeds each man cultivates will grow to
maturity and bear in him their own fruit.
Late at night, after much snow has fallen and while vestiges of the downpour continue gently, the streets are very quiet. The blanket of white inhibits sound and makes the yellow streetlights eerie beacons. In those hours, empty streets offer themselves to me, and i take them slowly, unwilling to ravage them after their recent purification.
i spoke recently about coincidence. it was an accident, a result of repeatedly thwarted plans, that i went today and not last week or month or year to the waterhouse exhibit at the musee des beaux-arts. on the heels of my interaction with joseph campbell, specifically the story of odysseus' meeting and hieros gamos ('sacred marriage') with circe that i came, unexpectedly, upon waterhouse's magnificent rendering of this meeting.
in the story, odysseus must solicit the sorceress circe's guidance, but he must first challenge her authority so that she finds him worthy of seduction (an allegory for union with the guide/guardian of the otherworld/immortality -- the goddess); it is a typically iron age patriarchy myth, in which the feminine-goddess element is dominated by the masculine-warrior element. waterhouse's painting, though, focuses on the fleeting moment when circe raises her wand to threaten odysseus. it is a distinctive interpretation of the scene, which centres on the magic powers of circe rather than her eventual capitulation to odysseus' masculine authority. she is commanding and dominates by subtle wiles, not physical force. she is the archetypal mother-goddess: pacific yet omniscient; terrible in her capacity as destroyer, benign in her capacity as life-giver.
waterhouse began his career by painting representations of scenes from classical antiquity (his uniqueness was his ability to convey a narrative through pictorial rather than literature; he showed a side-scene, which conveyed the entire story), but he shifted, mysteriously and dramatically, to a focus on pagan antiquity and mythology. (to be sure, we can draw a distinct parallel here with the present writer.) this focus on pagan myth and the centrality of commanding females made people wonder about possible connexions to an occult society, since the mystical feminine -- the eternal, dual-yet-united power of the female, the destroyer/creator-goddess -- is at the core of the human story, is more ancient than our time, and is the obsession of seekers of ultimate truth.
the immensity of life's pleasure is, i think, in its minuteness. the pleasurable moments threaded together make a happy life - life is a persian rug of finely woven pleasures. but, most of those moments (if i were braver i would say all of those moments) are unplanned. the conjoinings of seemingly disparate events are the recipe for these unplanned happy events. but, let us not forget, what may appear unplanned to the conscious mind is never without method to the subconscious, whose perpetual goal is the creation of our happiness. i am most pleased with the coincidences that make up my daily happiness, and the coterie of friends that make it so. it is a blessing of which i am forever mindful.
I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere, they're in each other all along. - Rumi
love is linked to life. the longer we live, the more deeply we understand love. the love that a teenager insists that she feels is a legitimate love. it is different from that experienced by a twenty-five year-old or a sixty-five year-old, but it is love nonetheless. how do we know when we are in love? we feel it. we know with certainty when we are not in love, but we are unsure of everything when we are in love. the love between two people is an intimation of universal love, love in the abstract - the love one experiences when one effaces one's ego, one's self. when one gives love unselfishly to everyone, then one is divine. when one is united with love, one realises that loving truly is to recognise the universe within oneself, to recognise that the lover and the beloved are one.
one of my most persistent memories, brief as static but with all of nostalgia's pleasantness, is of a movie called 'wilde'. i sat on the floor of the living room of the london flat where i had spent about a dozen summers, half of which followed the formula of watching videos rented from the blockbuster downstairs while eating a small cup of haagen-dazs vanilla ice cream, purchased there. i sat on the blue carpet and watched the dramatised biography of a man about whom i knew nothing except his name. but that name would change my perception of the world, as the things he did with language were, to me, unimaginable. i never knew one was allowed to play, to manipulate, to wit, as he did. to be sure, my own skill wanes in comparison, but what i know now, i owe in some great degree to oscar wilde, and also in some great degree to the man who played him in that film, mr stephen fry. i believe it was the first time i'd heard of him, but he became then inextricably linked with mr wilde, and they were thenceforth fixtures of my fascination with language, a permanent benchmark, a zenith towards which to strive. many years passed after that initial initiation, and i began to investigate wilde's work, for the first time, and my mind's barriers were shattered, one more time. some more years passed, and i investigated mr fry again. his wit is unparalleled, his insight is remarkable, and his lexical dexterity is so magnificent that it is tearfully enviable.
i was beaten by the strange stick when i picked up linda goodman's star signs. it is occult to the max. she was the foremost in astrology, she brought it to the fore. her sun signs is amazing and insightful, and everyone should read it - those who study the astrological sciences will relish it, those who are unaware will become aware. to be sure, linda goodman is brilliant. she taps into the ancient gnosis, the ancient wisdom, the idea of becoming one with oneself, when one's "I"-ness is effaced to the point that there is no Me and there is no You, there is only the Ultimate. when one diminishes one's self, one recognises the Unity of Being - the wahdat al-wujud of ibn al-arabi - the blissful peace of unified reality.
but star signs is so strange ... it's occult to the hilt. i picked it up before leaving mtl and opened it to the chapter on achieving physical immortality and was visibly struck by its brazenness. i put it in my suitcase and read it two nights ago. it was eye-opening. the idea, the steps she provided, of/to physical immortality were galilean, though the book was published thirty years ago. believe in immortality! she chides. you can do it if you KNOW it to be true. recognise the truth of cell regeneration and train your mind to youthen your body, your cells. you will look like any age you want to. follow the steps - become vegetarian, do not kill, do not be promiscuous, be kind.
eleven steps to immortality. nice if you can get it, and you can get it if you try.
it is a paragon of pluralism, created as a house for `every god`, the pantheon was designed to welcome and include all the people of the realm and the variety of gods they worshipped. it is one of rome`s oldest buildings, built by marcus agrippa in his third consulship after actium in 31 bce, and has been in continuous use for over 2000 years. (the xtians usurped it in the seventh c and its used by them still.) its walls are six feet thick, to support its huge dome.
it is a massive structure that, like the moon, remains stationery as you move beneath it. it is breathtaking every time. its columns are gigantic and its awe is wonderful to experience, every single time. it comes into the corner of the eye, through the small streets that hide its fullness. but in the openness of its piazza, it is awesome and thrilling, every time, even when looking away for a moment and turning back.
rome is empty at night, all the piazzas are clear, making way for lovers and other strangers. the pantheon`s majesty is clear in the daytime, despite all the people, but it`s solemnity is clearest at night.
a life of contemplation without action is a life lived lame. a life of apathetic experience is insubstantial. but in combination you have a whole: a life of both active contemplation and impassioned experience is a balanced life. in the actualisation of both/all aspects of life is life's real pleasure - experiencing the whole, wholly. in the acceptance of all our diverse and conflicting components is freedom. freedom is being whole. it is our duty to be free.