Friday, February 27, 2009

Rumi || c. 1250: Konya

If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,
Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
Like this?

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
Like this?

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.

When someone asks what it means
to “die for love,” point:

If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.
Like this.

When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.
Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
Like this.

How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?

How did Jacob’s sight return?

A little wind cleans the eyes.
Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us.
Like this.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nietzsche on Jesus the "Political Criminal"

"I fail to see against what the rebellion-as whose cause Jesus has been understood or misunderstood-may have been directed, if it was not a rebellion against the Jewish church-church exactly in the same sense in which we use the word today. It was a rebellion against "the good and the just," against "the saints of Israel," against the hierarchy of society- not against its corruption, but against caste, privilege, order, and formula; it was the disbelief in "higher men," the No to all that was priest or theologian. But the hierarchy which was thus questioned, even if only for a moment, was the lake-dwelling on which alone the Jewish people, amid the "water," could continue to exist, the hard-won last chance of survival, the residue of its independent political existence. An attack on this was an attack on the deepest instinct of a people, on the toughest life-will that has ever existed in any people on earth. This holy anarchist, who summoned the people at the bottom, the outcastes and "sinners," the pariahs within Judaism, to negate the dominant order-using language, if the Gospels could be trusted, that today, too, would still lead to Siberia- was a political criminal insofar as political criminals were at all possible in an absurdly unpolitical community. This brought him to the cross..."

- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist

Herzog: Psychoanalysis is "even worse than the Spanish Inquisition"

"Things rarely turn out well when the swashbuckling side of Herzog takes over. Several years ago, he returned to the Alps to ski with some old friends. One day, he sped down a notoriously treacherous run; when he boasted about it that night, nobody believed him. The next day, he insisted on doing it again—and, predictably, he wiped out. 'I nearly died,' he told me, and he still has difficulty turning his neck.

Why does he do such things? Herzog does not want to know the answer. 'I think that psychoanalysis is one of the great evils of civilization, even worse than the Spanish Inquisition,' he told me. 'At least the Inquisition was about keeping something together. Analysis is only about taking a person apart. I would rather die than see an analyst.'

quote taken from The Ecstatic Truth: Werner Herzog's Quest by Daniel Zalewski in The New Yorker, April 24, 2006.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Kirkegaardian Omission

“When a woman makes an altar cloth, so far as she is able, she makes every flower as lovely as the graceful flowers of the field, as far as she is able, every star as sparkling as the glistening stars of the night. She withholds nothing, but uses the most precious things she possesses. She sells off every other claim upon her life that she may purchase the most uninterrupted and favorable time of the day and night for her one and only, for her beloved work. But when the cloth is finished and put to its sacred use: then she is deeply distressed if someone should make the mistake of looking at her art, instead of at the meaning of the cloth; or make the mistake of looking at a defect, instead of at the meaning of the cloth. For she could not work the sacred meaning into the cloth itself, nor could she sew it on the cloth as though it were one more ornament. This meaning really lies in the beholder and in the beholder’s understanding, if he, in the endless distance of the separation, above himself and above his own self, has completely forgotten the needlewoman and what was hers to do. It was allowable, it was proper, it was duty, it was a precious duty, it was the highest happiness of all for the needlewoman to do everything in order to accomplish what was hers to do; but it was a trespass against God, an insulting misunderstanding of the poor needle-woman, when someone looked wrongly and saw what was only there, not to attract attention to itself, but rather so that its omission would not distract by drawing attention to itself.”

- Soren Kierkegaard, Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing