Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Fragmentation: In Search of Cohesion ... What's going on now?

 Greetings all and sundry! 

Sundry? No, you're all important, whoever you are, though your purpose be a mystery to me. I sit down to write this post without much plan as to what exactly to put down, except for two articles of note. To wit...

    "Nothing availed the poet, he could right no wrongs; he is heeded only if he extols the world, never if he portrays it as it is." (p. 15)

That is the first quote I marked in a book I've recently begun reading called 'The Death of Virgil', written by one Hermann Broch, who began writing it while in a German concentration camp. It's a quote that I would think would appeal to one such as Joni Mitchell, who is fond of quoting a passage from Nietzsche's 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' on the superficiality of poets and poetry--"They did not think sufficiently to the depths, therefore their feeling did not get to the bottom." The Virgil in Broch's book is distraught and near death, and Broch strings out Virgil's inner contemplations much as Proust strung out the scent of a madeleine; his writing is florid, poetic and deep. Having been close to death as he was when he began the book--Broch died in 1951--Broch writes as one very close to the essential subject matter, which goes beyond Virgil and his time as a celebrated Roman poet. Here's the second passage I marked:

    "Greater than the earth is light, greater than man is the earth, and man's existence avails him nothing until he breathes his native air, returning to the earth, through earth returning to the light, an earthly being receiving the light on earth, received in turn by the light only through earth, earth changing to light." (p. 17)

Or this, the third:

    "Oh grass, oh leaf, bark-smoothness, bark-roughness, vitality of the burgeoning, in this branching out and embodiment ye are earth's darkness made manifest!"  (p. 18)

There is much that has spoken to me already in 'The Death of Virgil'--and I'm only 28 pages in!--that speaks to things transcendent, to aspects of life (and death) that are more subtle than we rarely give more than a passing thought to, and rarely do most of us take the time to actually turn off our rational, thinking minds long off to simply be in the presence of these things, which are inherent in all things at all times.

Here is the fourth passage I marked, and in my mind, it speaks to a fundamental spiritual concept that as human beings, the world we are born into is ultimately unsatisfactory, that we are missing something, that we experience ourselves as separate and apart from each other (and even ourselves at times) while we are yet part of this great infinite whole:

    "[For] insufficient was the desire of hands, insufficient the desire of eyes, insufficient the desire of hearing, sufficient alone was the desire of heart and mind communing together, the yearning contemplation of the infinity within and without, beholding, hearkening, comprehending, breathing in the unity of the doubled breath, the unity of the universe, for by unity alone one might overcome the lowering hopeless blindness of fearful isolation ..." (p. 19, emphasis mine)

In short, I'm thus far fascinated but it's a hefty tome and some sentences flow on for quite some time, so it's also a rather dense--but beautifully dense--read.

My second topic shares a point of relation that I will not reveal, suffice to say that I've nearly finished the rough draft of a new, previously-mentioned short story, now titled 'The Old Hermit of Silesia'. I've but to write the ending passage, which as of now is still stewing in my head but ready to begin putting to page. It is a story that I have to confess to being somewhat fearful of sharing; it's a story that challenges certain commonly-held notions and also gets into some very unpleasant things that may be difficult for some people to read. There is violence, and fear, and a reckoning with the dead that I hope, however, ultimately speaks to the possibility--nay, the certainty--that all things, for better and for worse, will pass in time, and that all that we see and experience as evil will have its place alongside all that is good. I'm hoping to have it done in time for Christmas! 

Here you see a sketch that I did a couple of days ago, a sort of mock-up for what would be the cover. Perhaps I could get someone with professional skill to turn it into the appropriately dark, fire-lit scene that it is meant to be? In any case, it gets the idea across and will hopefully spark some curiosity amongst you, whoever you may be reading these words. (Don't be shy if your own thoughts are sparked by anything I share on this humble blog and wish to return the favor!) 

I will likely publish the story in two or three parts with my cover sketch, perhaps modified or hopefully enhanced, and will share the first part in the next week or two.

So! That's what's going on now.

May you all be well,

- DH