« July 2007 | Main | September 2007 »

August 30, 2007

the sufferings of the world

You can withdraw from the sufferings of the world - that possibility is open to you and accords with your nature - but perhaps that withdrawal is the only suffering you might be able to avoid.


Posted by amin at 1:09 AM

August 29, 2007

beauty is a light

To put a great deal into a few words, Goodness is said to be the outstanding characteristic of God. Beauty is a kind of force or light shining from Him through everything, first through the Angelic Mind, second through the World-Soul and the rest of the soul, third through Nature, and forth through Corporeal Matter; it fills the mind with a series of Ideas; it fills the soul with a series of Concepts; it sows Nature with Seeds; and it provides Matter with Forms. In much the same way, in fact, that the single light of the sun lights up four bodies, fire, air, water, and earth, so the single light of God illuminates the Mind, Soul, Nature, and Matter. Anyone seeing the light in these four elements sees the beam of the sun, and through this beam is directed to the perception of the supreme light of the sun itself. In the same way, whoever sees and loves the beauty in these four, Mind, Soul, Nature, and Body, sees the glow of God in these and through this kind of glow sees and loves God himself.

Marsilio Ficino

Posted by amin at 1:18 PM

August 28, 2007

the artist and study

We need only lay down as essential the view that, though the artist’s talent and genius contains a natural element, yet it is essentially in need of cultivation by thought, and of reflection on the mode in which it produces, as well as of practice and skill in producing. A main feature of such a production is unquestionably external workmanship, inasmuch as the work of art has a purely technical side, which extends into the region of handicraft; most especially in architecture and sculpture, and less so in painting and music, least of all in poetry. Skill in this comes not from inspiration, but solely by reflection, industry, and practice; and such skill is indispensable to the artist, in order that he may master his external material, and not be thwarted by its stubbornness.

Moreover, the higher an artist ranks, the more profoundly ought he to represent the depths of heart and mind; and these are not known without learning them, but are only to be fathomed by the direction of a man’s own mind to the inner and outer world. So here, too, study is the means whereby the artist brings this content into his consciousness, and wins the matter and burden of his conceptions.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 3:17 PM

August 27, 2007

the pre-eminent power of art

Man can frame to himself ideas of things that are not actual as though they were actual. Hence it is all the same to our feelings whether external reality or only the semblance of it is the means of bringing in contact with us a situation, a relation, or the import of a life. Either mode suffices to awaken our response to its burden, in grief and in rejoicing, in pathos and in horror, and in traversing the emotions and the passions of wrath, hatred, compassion, of anxiety, fear, love, reverence, and admiration, or of the desire of honor and of fame.

This awakening of all feelings in us, the dragging of the heart through the whole significance of life, the realization of all such inner movements by means of a presented exterior consisting merely in deception – all this was what, from the point of view which we have been considering, constituted the peculiar and pre-eminent power of art.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 1:06 PM

August 26, 2007

the true content of art

What is the true content of art, and with what aim is this content to be presented? On this subject our consciousness supplies us with the common opinion that it is the task and aim of art to bring in contact with our sense, our feeling, our inspiration, all that finds a place in the mind of man. Art, it is thought, should realize in us that familiar saying, “I am a man: I regard nothing human as alien to me.” Its aim is therefore placed in arousing and animating the slumbering emotions, inclinations, and passions; in filling the heart, in forcing the human being, whether cultured or uncultured, to feel the whole range of what man’s soul in its inmost and secret corners has power to experience and to create, and all that is able to move and to stir the human breast in its depths and in its manifold aspects and possibilities; to present as a delight to emotion and to perception all that the mind possesses of real and lofty in its thought and in the Idea – all the splendor of the noble, the eternal, and the true; and no less to make intelligible misfortune and misery, wickedness and crime; to make men realize the inmost nature of all that is shocking and horrible, as also of all pleasure and delight; and, finally, to set imagination roving in idle toying of fancy, and luxuriating in the seductive spells of sense-stimulating visions.


If, speaking generally, we are concerned about a purpose which is universal and not contingent, it follows that this purpose, considering the essential nature of art, cannot but be itself spiritual, and indeed, moreover, one which is not contingent, but actual in its nature and for its own sake. Such a purpose in relation to teaching could only consist in bringing before consciousness, by help of the work of art, a really and explicitly significant spiritual content. From this point of view it is to be asserted that the higher art ranks itself, the more it is bound to admit into itself such a content as this, and that only in the essence of such a content can it find the standard which determines whether what is expressed is appropriate or inappropriate. Art was, in fact, the first instructress of peoples.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 12:08 PM

August 25, 2007

the truth

I can imagine someone copying out how Felix Arvers died. It was in a hospital. He was dying gently and serenely, and the nun perhaps thought that he was further along in it than he really was. She shouted out some instructions, in a very loud voice, indicating where something or other could be found. She was a rather uneducated nun; she had never seen in writing the word “corridor,” which at that moment she couldn’t avoid using. Thus it happened that she said “collidor,” thinking that this was the proper way to pronounce it. Thereupon Arvers postponed dying. He felt it was necessary to clear up this matter first. He became perfectly lucid and explained to her that it should be “corridor.” He then died. He was a poet and hated the approximate; or perhaps he was concerned only with the truth; or it annoyed him to be taking along as his last impression the thought that the world would continue to go on carelessly. Whatever the reason was can no longer be determined. But let no one think it was pedantry. Otherwise, the same reproach would fall on the saintly Jean de Dieu, who in the midst of his dying jumped up and ran out to the garden, just in time to cut down the man who had hanged himself there, tidings of whom had in some miraculous way penetrated the hidden tension of his agony. He too was concerned only with the truth.


I had already been afraid before. For example, when my dog died. The one who blamed me once and for all. He was very sick. I had been kneeling beside him all day long, when suddenly he looked up and barked, quickly and abruptly, as he used to do when a stranger entered the room. A bark like that was a signal that we had arranged between us for such occasions, and I involuntarily glanced toward the door. But it was already inside him. Alarmed, I turned back and looked into his eyes, and he looked into mine; but not to say goodbye. He looked at me with an expression of harshness and surprise. He reproached me for allowing it to enter. He was convinced that I could have prevented it. It was obvious now that he had always overestimated me. And there was no time left to explain. He continued to look at me out of an infinite surprise and solitude until it was over.


I have always shuddered to hear that a dying person could no longer recognize anyone. I would imagine a solitary face that lifted itself up from the pillow and looked, looked for something familiar, looked for something seen before; but there was nothing there.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 11:16 AM

August 24, 2007

reforming man means binding him to heaven

The world is sick because men live beneath themselves; the error of modern man is that he wants to reform the world without having either the will or the power to reform man, and this flagrant contradiction, this attempt to make a better world on the basis of a worsened humanity, can only end in the abolition of happiness too. Reforming man means binding him again to Heaven, reestablishing the broken link, it means plucking him from the kingdom of the passions, from the cult of matter, quantity and cunning, and re-integrating him into the world of the spirit and serenity-even, it might be said, into the world of his own sufficient reason.

Frithjof Schuon

Posted by amin at 10:56 PM

August 23, 2007

real art

Real art is always about generosity, about the expression of sight, of consciousness. About opening windows and inviting people in.

Walter Salles

Posted by amin at 2:21 AM

August 22, 2007

eye of the world

The gift of genius is nothing but the most complete subjectivity…the capacity to remain in a state of pure perception, to lose oneself in perception, to remove from the service of the will the knowledge which originally existed only for this service. In other words genius is the ability to leave entirely out of sight our own interest, our willing, and our aims, and consequently to discard entirely our own personality for a time, in order to remain pure knowing subject, the clear eye of the world; and this not merely for moments, but with the necessary continuity and conscious thought to enable us to repeat by deliberate art what has been apprehended.


Posted by amin at 11:16 AM

August 21, 2007

either the world or the cloister

I was so profoundly shaken that I understood perfectly well that I could not possibly succeed in taking the comfortable and secure via media in which most people pass their lives: I had either to throw myself into perdition and sensuality, or to choose the religious absolutely as the only thing-either the world in a measure which would be dreadful, or the cloister. That it was the second I must choose was already substantially determined: the eccentricity of the first movement was merely the expression of the intensity of the second; it expressed the fact that it would be impossible for me to be religious only up to a certain point.


Posted by amin at 2:14 AM

August 20, 2007

that idea for which I am ready to live and die

What I really need is to become clear in my own mind what I must do, not what I must know-except in so far as a knowing must precede every action. The important thing is to understand what I am destined for, to perceive what the Deity wants me to do; the point is to find the truth which is truth for me, to find that idea for which I am ready to live and die.


Posted by amin at 12:15 AM

August 19, 2007


Poets are holy vessels
In which the wine of life,
The spirit of heroes is preserved;

But this young man’s spirit,
The quick – would it not burst
Any vessel that tried to contain it?

Let the poet leave him untouched like the spirit of Nature,
For both reduce to a bungling boy the masterly craftsman.

In the poem he cannot live and last;
He lives and lasts in the world.


Posted by amin at 8:55 PM

August 17, 2007

the price of solitude

Do you remember Baudelaire’s incredible poem “Une Charohne”? Perhaps I understand it now. Except for the last stanza, he was in the right. What should he have done after that happened to him? It was his task to see, in this terrifying and apparently repulsive object, the Being that underlies all beings. There is no choice, no refusal. Do you think it was by chance that Flaubert wrote his “Saint Julien l’Hospitalier”? This, it seems to me, is the test: whether you can bring yourself to lie beside a leper and warm him with the warmth of your heart-such an action could only have good results.

But don’t think that I am suffering from disenchantment here-on the contrary. I am sometimes astonished by how readily I have given up everything I expected, in exchange for what is real, even when that is awful.

My God, if only something of this could be shared. But would it be then; would it be? No, it is only at the price of solitude.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 6:01 PM

August 16, 2007

don’t think about the future, don’t worry about success

Sometimes I pass little shops-in the rue de Seine, for example. Dealers in second-hand furniture, small used-book sellers, specialists in engravings, with over crowded windows. No one ever walks through their doors; they apparently don’t do any business at all. But if you look in, you can see them sitting there, sitting and reading, without a care in the world; they don’t think about the future, don’t worry about success, have a dog that sits in front of them, wagging its tail, or a cat that makes the silence even greater by gliding along the rows of books, as if it were trying to rub the names off their bindings.

Ah, if only that were enough: I sometimes wish I could buy myself a crowed shop-window like that and sit down behind it, with a dog, for twenty years.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 10:30 PM

August 15, 2007

the passing of time

The passing of time had absolutely no meaning for him; death was a minor incident which he completely ignored; people whom he had once installed in his memory continued to exist, and the fact that they had died did not alter that in the least.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 1:32 AM

August 14, 2007

because he was a stranger and was dying...

Is it possible that the whole history of the world has been misunderstood? Is it possible that the past is false, because we have always spoken about its masses, just as if we were telling about a gathering of many people, instead of talking about the one person they were standing around because he was a stranger and was dying?
Yes, it is possible.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 11:36 PM

August 13, 2007

many people, many more faces

I am learning to see. I don’t know why it is, but everything enters me more deeply and doesn’t stop where it once used to. I have an interior that I never knew of. Everything passes into it now. I don’t know what happens there.

For example, it never occurred to me before how many faces there are. There are multitudes of people, but there are many more faces, because each person has several of them. There are people who wear the same face for years; naturally it wears out, gets dirty, splits at the seams, stretches like gloves worn during a long journey. They are thrifty, uncomplicated people; they never change it, never even have it cleaned. It’s good enough, they say, and who can convince them of the contrary? Of course, since they have several faces, you might wonder what they do with the other ones. They keep them in storage. Their children will wear them. But sometimes it also happens that their dogs go out wearing them. And why not? A face is a face.

Other people change faces incredibly fast, put on one after another, and wear them out. At first, they think they have an unlimited supply; but when they are barely forty years old they come to their last one. There is, to be sure, something tragic about this. They are not accustomed to taking care of faces; their last one is worn through a week, has holes in it, is in many places as thin as paper, and then, little by little, the lining shows through, the non-face, and they walk around with that one.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 11:31 PM

August 12, 2007

be always a passer-by

Be in this world as if you are a traveler, a passer-by, with your cloths and shoes full of dust. Sometimes you sit under the shade of a tree, sometimes you walk in the desert. Be always a passer-by, for this is not home.

Prophet Muhammad

Posted by amin at 12:18 AM

August 11, 2007

here we are but pilgrims and strangers

Men in this world are like trees, some slender, some great, some flourishing, some bearing fruit, some withering, some growing, some blown down, and some fruitful, which in the harvest are brought together and laid upon one stack. Neither is there afterwards any difference seen among them, all being cut down, never more to grow again. So all pride, ambition, riches, authority, children, friends, and glory, do in short space grow old, and perish. Only virtue and honesty can make a man happy; only a guilty conscience can make him miserable. The worst that good men can fear is the best that evil can wish for, which is the destruction of the soul in death. But God has given us a sufficient proof of our immortality by rising up his Son from the Dead. Were it not for this hope, our lives would not be worth our care: so fluctuating and foolish a thing is Life. But our Creator has put us into this world in order to our translation to a better; and secretly observes how we acquit ourselves towards our senses, how we resist the torrent of bad examples, and what daily progress we make towards the Heavenly Canon, which is our native country; for here we are but pilgrims and strangers.

Cardan - Three Books of Consolation

Posted by amin at 12:39 AM

August 10, 2007

Go down, then, lovely sun…

Go down, then, lovely sun, for but little they
Regarded you, nor, holy one, knew your worth,
Since without toil you rose, and quiet,
Over a people for ever toiling.

To me, however, kindly you rise and set,
O glorious light, and brightly my eyes respond, for godly, silent reverence I
Learned when Diotima soothed my frenzy.

O how I listened, Heaven’s own messenger,
To you, my teacher! Love! How to the golden day
These eyes transfused with thanks looked up from
Gazing at you. And at once more living.

The brooks began to murmur, more lovingly
The blossoms of dark Earth breathed their scent at me
And through the silver clouds a smiling
Aether bowed down to bestow his blessing.


Posted by amin at 1:50 AM

August 9, 2007

every feeling waits upon its gesture

Life doesn't hold still. A good snapshot stopped a moment from running away. Photography taught me that to be able to capture transience, by being ready to click the shutter at the crucial moment, was the greatest need I had. Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture; and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it.

Eudora Welty

Posted by amin at 2:00 PM

August 8, 2007


I have a need of silence and of stars.
Too much is said too loudly. I am dazed.
The silken road of whirled infinity
Is lost in voices shouting to be heard.

William Alexander Percy

Posted by amin at 1:38 PM

August 7, 2007

a day involving love and creation

Monday, 25 January 1943
One lives a vast number of days but life seems short because the days repeat themselves so. Take that period from my 21 to 24 yr. when I was in the shoe business, a clerk typist in St. Louis at $65 a month. It all seems like one day in my life. It was all one day over and over. Ben in “Stairs to the Roof.” The best way to have new days is to travel or be sexually promiscuous or work with intensity on a long creation. The progress of the work gives time a perspective. Yes, we must not go over and over our same day unless that day is deeply satisfying which it rarely is. One cannot hope for a life of continual movement and change and must so devise a good and deeply satisfying day to repeat. A day involving love and creation and security and a beautiful open country. New Mexico.
Help me, dear God, to find what I need.

Tennessee Williams - Notebooks

Posted by amin at 8:51 PM

August 6, 2007

the revolving electric cross

Thursday, 19 March 1936
Let us not speak of it. This agony. Forget it. Find strength somehow to go on. Work to be done. Feel sometimes as though I could relinquish this life very easily. Last night I saw The Little Theater Play Ode To Liberty. Very amusing. Between acts stood at an open window and saw the revolving electric cross over a Union Avenue church. Same one when I first became ill – that Sat. night last March when I walked miles and miles with my heart nearly jumping out of my chest – That cross helped me that night. The cross and the money I gave the street beggar. And finally those new star-shaped leaves. A strange night. But I’ve had many since then.

Tennessee Williams - Notebooks

Posted by amin at 7:48 PM

August 5, 2007

catching up with oneself

It is not worthwhile to remember a past which cannot become a present.

He who loves God without faith reflects upon himself, he who loves God believingly reflects upon God.

What is education? I should suppose that education was the curriculum one had to run through in order to catch up with oneself, and he who will not pass through this curriculum is helped very little by the fact that he was born in the most enlightened age.


Posted by amin at 3:05 AM

August 4, 2007

no one shall be forgotten who was great in the world

No, no one shall be forgotten who was great in the world. But each was great in his own way, and each in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved. For he who loved himself became great by himself, and he who loved other men became great by his selfless devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all. Everyone shall be remembered, but each became great in proportion to his expectation. One became great by expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal, but he who expected the impossible became greater than all. Everyone shall be remembered, but each was great in proportion to the greatness of that which he strove. For he who strove with the world became great by overcoming the world, and he who strove with himself became great by overcoming himself, but he who strove with God became greater than all. So there was strife in the world, man against man, one against a thousand, but he who strove with God was greater than all. So there was strife upon earth: there was one who overcame all by his power, and there was one who overcame God by his impotence. There was one who relied upon himself and gained all, there was one who secure in his strength sacrificed all, but he who believed God was greater than all. There was one who was great by reason of his power, one who was great by reason of his wisdom, and one who was great by reason of his hope, and one who was great by reason of his love; but Abraham was greater than all, great by reason of his power whose strength is impotence, great by the reason of his wisdom whose secret is foolishness, great by the reason of his hope whose form is madness, great by the reason of the love which is hatred of oneself.


Posted by amin at 10:50 PM

August 3, 2007

faith is a passion

The ethical expression for what Abraham did is, that he would murder Isaac; the religious expression is, that he would sacrifice Isaac; but precisely in this contradiction consists the dread which can well make a man sleepless, and yet Abraham is not what he is without this dread.

What a tremendous paradox faith is, a paradox which is capable of transforming a murder into a holy act well-pleasing to God, a paradox which gives Isaac back to Abraham, which no thought can master, because faith begins precisely there where thinking leaves off.

Faith is a miracle, and yet no man is excluded from it; for that in which all human life is unified is passion, and faith is a passion.


Posted by amin at 11:23 AM

August 2, 2007

and he drew the knife...

My hearer, there was many a father who believed that with his son he lost everything that was dearest to him in the world, that he was deprived of every hope for the future, but yet there was none that was the child of promise in the sense that Isaac was for Abraham. There was many a father who lost his child; but then it was God, it was the unalterable, the unsearchable will of the Almighty, it was His hand took the child. Not so with Abraham. For him was reserved a harder trial, and Isaac’s fate was laid along with the knife in Abraham’s hand. And there he stood, the old man, with his only hope! But he did not doubt, he did not look anxiously to the right or to the left, he did not challenge heaven with his prayers. He knew that it was God the Almighty who was trying him, he knew that it was the hardest sacrifice that could be required of him; but he knew also that no sacrifice was too hard when God required it – and he drew the knife.


Posted by amin at 9:26 PM

August 1, 2007

the crossroads of sex

He who rises in the night and quietly seeks another is like a digger for treasure seeking the great happiness, which is so indispensable, at the crossroads of sex. There is something of the longing which makes great poets in all vice, in all lustful sins against nature, in all the desperate and vain attempts to find an eternal meaning for life. Here is humanity’s hunger reaching out beyond itself; stretching out hands towards eternity. Here eyes open which gaze upon death without fear; here a hopeless heroism is revealed, whose glory is transient as a smile, blossoming and perishing like a rose. Here are the storms of desire, the calm of expectation; here are dreams which become deeds, and deeds which pass away in dreams. Here, as at some gigantic gambling-table, a man’s whole endowment of strength is lost and won.


Posted by amin at 11:53 PM