Empty Days

Wednesday, September 21, 2005



Drrr-dddrrr-drrdrr...

>>> I am in a chattering mood as I finally feel some relief from this hellish frustration I've been caught up in for some time now. I guess there is a breaking point for everything.

>>> Instead of praying at all times, I installed anti-virus NOD32 software on my puter and it immediately found trojans, worms and damaged archives and it's been checking everything downloaded from the net ever since - which slows down my connection but it's better than to have issues with such shit. I saw the effects of a violently active trojan on an unprotected PC in Russia, it was ugly - and fairly impossible to clean out when it's already in full swing.

>>> Discovered some cockroaches in the kitchen. Never used to have any. The last preventive extermination was at least 5 years ago - so - I wasn't terribly surprised.

>>> Went surfing other people's blogs. For some reason I like everything I read even when it's frankly silly. What pains me though are cancer-blogs - from people who are down with this deadly desease and are acting like it's a glitch in a perfectly fine picture and soon all will be well again. Is death so unimportant? Or maybe there is no language left to express its meaning - because it doesn't fit with the rest of the fine picture. But don't I know this when I simply ignore other people dying - by accepting their death in indifferent submission and forgetfulness? I saw my oldest aunt this summer, she died a month later, it never mattered.

>>> I found one bike in the last few weeks and my father found two. There are currently 5 garbage bikes in the storage, 2 bikes at my place, and 1 is being used by my brother. But they all need work and I am way too lazy and uninspired at the moment to do anything.

>>> There is nowhere to go - except mingle with this world as it exists and assume its talk and gestures. But I am so utterly narrow-minded, I can't see any form that would suit me or that I might be suited for. There is not enough force and inner reasons to escape completely - or really go looking for something else out there. I am made in this way. Perhaps I will need to go completely undone before I get to see some light.

>>> I let my cat out a lot as it has been locked up in an appartment all summer long - now it wants to go out even at 3am in the morning or when it rains. I feel I owe some freedom to my cat. It looks much happier and more energetic ever since it moved back to my place. But this has its dangers: recently I found it stuck on a neighbour's balcony and I have no clue how he got there - he's so fat and clumsy! Perhaps the neighbour put it there? I don't like that idea.

>>> Many are called and few are chosen. Granted. But what about those who are not even called?

>>> What I like in the stories about various holy men and suchlike is their unfaltering good cheer and humour. Loads of seriousness and pompous words won't cut it - that's not the material true wisdom is made of. In fact, all signs of arrogance and conceit speak against whatever "goodness" is being preached. In Russia I saw plenty of folks go around dressed "humbly" (head-scarfs and long skirts for women, old-prophet beards for men) and talking churchy language ("brother", "sister" etc) but it all seemed a tad overdone. To say the least. Perhaps this can help some in their efforts to achieve whatever measure of inner perfection but for the most part it's just theatrics taken too seriously. Language is a worse culprit than dress however - it replaces and covers-up both feeling and thought.

>>> To be taken seriously one needs to assume airs of self-importance.

>>> I met no new people in Russia and made no new friends. In fact I even lost some - like the relationship I had with my cousin went all to pieces. Some people tried to make a connection and were very generous about it but it didn't stick with me. Nothing sticks with me. This is very telling of my general condition and standing in life - or the complete absence thereof.




To all things their time:

I have an old french pocket edition of St.Augustine's Confessions - it has pencil marks in it which by all appearances are by myself when I was in my late teens. Tellingly enough I don't even remember ever reading this book - most likely because in those days I devoured literally tones and tones of books but for all the wrong reasons most of the time. In fact I simply wanted to appear well-read and knowledgeable in order to impress everyone around me. In this I succeeded. But all this assumed wisdom proved of no use to me whatsoever.

I wonder if this sort of early-life pitfall can really be avoided - or whether it should be even. To each his own road with its own potholes.

In light of which this passage by Augustin hits close to home:
Of all this I was convinced, yet I was too weak to enjoy thee. I chattered away as if I were an expert; but if I had not sought thy Way in Christ our Saviour, my knowledge would have turned out to be not instruction but destruction.[222] For now full of what was in fact my punishment, I had begun to desire to seem wise. I did not mourn my ignorance, but rather was puffed up with knowledge. For where was that love which builds upon the foundation of humility, which is Jesus Christ?[223] Or, when would these books teach me this? I now believe that it was thy pleasure that I should fall upon these books before I studied thy Scriptures, that it might be impressed on my memory how I was affected by them; and then afterward, when I was subdued by thy Scriptures and when my wounds were touched by thy healing fingers, I might discern and distinguish what a difference there is between presumption and confession -- between those who saw where they were to go even if they did not see the way, and the Way which leads, not only to the observing, but also the inhabiting of the blessed country. For had I first been molded in thy Holy Scriptures, and if thou hadst grown sweet to me through my familiar use of them, and if then I had afterward fallen on those volumes, they might have pushed me off the solid ground of godliness -- or if I had stood firm in that wholesome disposition which I had there acquired, I might have thought that wisdom could be attained by the study of those [Platonist] books alone.
***

When I think that these very candid and true Confessions have been endlessly used by ignorant and arrogant fanatics of the outer church as some sort of glorified *proof* of the superiority/infaillibility of the christian faith - I mourn for Augustine and his heart. There are and can be no proofs-for-all - this is what this book is about!

Outside of which this is indeed a powerful testimony to the unfathomable ways of living God (whose reality does not become any clearer from reading this book alone) - and how these ways cannot be forced on those yet unwilling to listen.

Holy Christ :-/

***

Funny detail: the french and english editions talk of the "Catholic Church" while the russian translation (which is actually better done in terms of precision) translates everything as "the Orthodox Church". Now, this really doesn't matter much since in Augustine's time the christian tradition was still in one piece. But I must wonder what other devious interpretations there occured in the course of such biased translations.




What really happened:
And being admonished by these books to return into myself, I entered into my inward soul, guided by thee. This I could do because thou wast my helper. And I entered, and with the eye of my soul -- such as it was -- saw above the same eye of my soul and above my mind the Immutable Light. It was not the common light, which all flesh can see; nor was it simply a greater one of the same sort, as if the light of day were to grow brighter and brighter, and flood all space. It was not like that light, but different, yea, very different from all earthly light whatever. Nor was it above my mind in the same way as oil is above water, or heaven above earth, but it was higher, because it made me, and I was below it, because I was made by it. He who knows the Truth knows that Light, and he who knows it knows eternity. Love knows it, O Eternal Truth and True Love and Beloved Eternity! Thou art my God, to whom I sigh both night and day. When I first knew thee, thou didst lift me up, that I might see that there was something to be seen, though I was not yet fit to see it. And thou didst beat back the weakness of my sight, shining forth upon me thy dazzling beams of light, and I trembled with love and fear. I realized that I was far away from thee in the land of unlikeness, as if I heard thy voice from on high: "I am the food of strong men; grow and you shall feed on me; nor shall you change me, like the food of your flesh into yourself, but you shall be changed into my likeness." And I understood that thou chastenest man for his iniquity, and makest my soul to be eaten away as though by a spider.[204] And I said, "Is Truth, therefore, nothing, because it is not diffused through space -- neither finite nor infinite?" And thou didst cry to me from afar, "I am that I am."[205] And I heard this, as things are heard in the heart, and there was no room for doubt. I should have more readily doubted that I am alive than that the Truth exists -- the Truth which is "clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made."[206]
[St.Augustine - Confessions]
The books that finally lead to this were by Plotinus. Augustine who was trying to find truth/God in books and written doctrines with the effort of his admittedly quite powerful intellect - never got to anything until finally he was given to see a glimpse of something real - within himself - and above that very same intellect.

What a chatterbox was he ever otherwise :-/





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