Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jumping Around

"To conquer illusion and hope, without being overcome by terror: this has been the whole endeavor of my life these past twenty years; to look straight into the abyss without bursting into tears, without begging or threatening, calmly, serenely preserving the dignity of man; to see the abyss and work as though I were immortal."
- Nikos Kazantzakis

While this would seem to be the statement of a Humanist and an Existentialist, I am neither or rather I am both and far more. I happen to believe that Kazantzatkis was a spiritual man however he framed it. What he lost patience with was the shallow, inauthentic people, and there are plenty of those who profess in some religion or other. People who take issue like Kazantzakis did (cf his novel The Last Temptation Of Christ) often leave religion behind but commonly with deep regret, for they wish that religion could pass muster. I would be one of those people except for the turning point in my experience when I turned twenty-one. I would have been one of those people if I could have survived without that turning point. It seems to be my experience that somehow God is really absent for many people, and the call to faith simply fails with them. It cannot be otherwise. Humanism arises among these people, though there are other sources for Humanism too. Nikos was certainly a Humanist.

I so admire him that one time our cat, Carl Sigmund Cat (yes, Jung and Freud, and most often known by his middle name, Sigmund) brought home a cat enough like him that he could have been a brother. We kept that cat and of course we named him Nikos Kazantzakis Cat. Nicky. When Nicky died, he was devastated by disease. The last thing I did was have the vet give him a biopsy of his kidneys. We found him full of tumors. I just hated that. What a waste, to cut that cat open and then to put him down. I have never felt good about that. I should have gone with my instinct rather than the "scientific logic" of the situation. I knew he was going to die. I fell short because I didn't want him to. Sin. I did not have to invade him like that. Shit.

I really relate to that quotation. I am deeply committed to God as I understand God. I see no conflict with that quotation and wish I had said it.


There are two astrological signs which this next poem might be about. Cardinal Air, and Mutable Air, Libra and Gemini. This feels more Libran to me because there seems to be too much free choice in it. Cardinal people are choosers. Mutable people are responders.

Jumping Around

I have sliced apart
the core of my life, cut it
in two halves. I jump
to one side, there see
the other, the oddities
found deep in that half,
or jump again, see
the other side of my life.
This way, back and forth,
I get to rocking
in greater pitches - soon I'll
upend and spill out.

February 17, 2009 4:02 PM


  1. For you to see both sides you hop back and forth instead of viewing from the top of the fence which would just give you a glimpse and not the true taste. I like your words.

  2. Much as I would love to be able to philosophize about 'god', it just does my head in :)

    So does all that jumping around, I too, do.....


  3. TB, I don't get to the top of the fence at will. I would prefer that if I could. That is something I can't seem to do without God's help.

    Michelle, I certainly find "philosophising" as much a curse as a blessing. It is the same as any human skill, though. Practice and discipline are critical, but practice is more critical. So desire or some other driver must be present. There are college curriculums available, meaning that this is an endeavor of some kind of value to civilized men. There are some who make a profession of it, and they invite others to join, certain that the destiny of mankind is at stake.

    The rest of us permit them their folly which suggests that we all tend to agree that there is some value in all of it. Here in America there is a distinct strain that is anti philosophy and anti science. We tend to belittle eggheads.

    But the truth is, some of us can't help it. We are driven to it. That hardly means we are necessarily good at it. That is a matter of integrity as well as practice and talent.

  4. To dig deep is always a struggle , but it is the only struggle worth anything in the long run.

    huggles dear friend...

  5. {{{Cherie}}}

    Personally I like tilting at windmills just as well.

  6. I'm certainly not having 'a go'.....I admire your ability to think like this. I can't. Much as I try, my mind will not do it. So I just go with my instincts mostly, and wish I could put it all into words one day :0)

  7. Yes, Michelle, not everybody is made the same way, and that's a good thing. I hope for maximum acceptance for all the different folk with each other in the world. We don't typically get that though.

  8. Sir, you have just summed up my life. :)

  9. You lost me a bit there today,
    but i choose to respond anyway:)

  10. Dear Christopher, this did touch me.

    Personally, I find humanism a bigger stretch than the other. To put all my spiritual eggs in the ropey, broken basket of humankind is simply asking too much. On the other hand I often think it might be better to operate on a kind of inverse of Pascale's wager; to bet on nothing after, no beyond, and treat this life as though it really is all you've got, then if there is more you'll maybe have acquitted yourself for it... I don't know. This isn't engaging with what you've said on a very deep level.

    I'm so sorry about the cat; we all have those things we can't undo but wish we could, of course. Telling ourselves we did our best at the time is cold comfort.

    I hope the pain is rather better now.

  11. I'm with you. I don't think the quote goes against God (as I know him). Fear is not of God, sayeth the good book over and over. And isn't that the crux of the quote. Live with abandon, not fear. I also think God is always presented. Some will see, some will turn a blind they check Him out in their rear-view mirror...and still drive away. Choices at forks in the road that make each of us unique.

  12. Joseph, if I have successfully summed up your life, then you are also one of the odd ones. But then I already knew that...

    Jozien, I think if I had the skill to accurately put the poem and sentiment into your native tongue you would not be lost. This is ever the trouble across the languages, even with Dutch, so close to English as it is.

    Lucy, thank you for going on that small journey with me. Yes, although I am not sure that I judge men for it too much, the heart of mankind cannot reach divinity in my experience, not without critical assistance from the divine side of things.

    A theologian from the "New Thought" movement (a kind of Neo-Platonic theology, and thus not mainstream Christian) helped me out on this. Eric Butterworth emphasized this point, and I can't help thinking it must be true. He said, "God loves to be used."

    My work then is not to find Divinity within so much as to find the capacity to welcome Divinity within. This is as big a difference to me as when I understood that this is not God's World and should not be judged with that measure (which for me leads to nihilism and atheism), but is instead the world God permits.

    Knowing God loves to be used is also knowing that I am going to fail in my highest aims in a fundamental way without Him, but that is a personal statement. Quite apart from any measure of lower or higher for it (since people genuinely differ on this point), personal experience has amply demonstrated to me that I go bankrupt over time without God, or as an AA philosopher, Bob Earle often said, "without God I'm fucked." Coming to God with that understanding changes things, as any genuine Christian can tell you.

    W&W, as you agree with me so I with you, and I will add to your individualizing of the path. What I would offer is a broader picture, the picture I am not alone in taking seriously, that much of what happens, though certainly not even close to all, is planned. This is the righteous and undeniable counterpoint to the free will position. It cannot be otherwise with the nature of God in question. Your "turning the blind eye" is essential to the whole process in some way, must be.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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