Some Fugitive Thoughts

Having looked into this, and come to a conclusion, I believe the things being said in these blog articles, and their scope and ideas, are things which have been lighted on repeatedly down the ages, by one generation or another.

The theme then is this:

And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate —but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

There is so much in the nature of things which interconnects; and which expresses a certain groundwork discovered; but in other languages and other disciplines and by other persons.

There is for instance, an idea of a collective and active sympathy which people and other living things share in, and which interacts with the busyness of people, animals, and things in general, so as to affect the courses they take.

This idea has been expressed scientifically; by say, Rupert Sheldrake in his book on biology called Morphic Resonance: The Nature of Formative Causation; and also in psychology Carl Gustav Jung has made famous his idea of a ‘collective unconscious’. The idea of an active sympathy reaches far out to topics which most persons would call ‘whacky’ – topics like astrology, telepathy; second-sight. It inhabits more mainstream items also like the religions of Buddhism; Christianity; Judaism; Islam.

Physics itself, the very staple of our criteria for truth, in quantum mechanics and in quantum theory, exposes some controversies which feed on postulations of holistic resonances and of organic dependencies in regard to certain general theories and cosmologies.

The Philosophers’ Stone of physics lives on yet, as our generation races one against another to claim it has been the first to have isolated the basic particle of being.

Whether or not it is merely our common human dream wishing for the existence of a certain common active connectivity; between living things; or between humanity; or between the things which comprise the cosmos; but that it might be a dream does not negate a possibility of it even so being the case.

The old jibe of Voltaire’s, that: ‘If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him’ – is capable of being turned on its head so that one can say in truth: ‘Just because you don’t believe it doesn’t mean to say it isn’t true’.

A problem arises that when a person is so ‘far out’ from the common consensus of his or her society; notwithstanding that to have reached such an outpost of prospect has been for her/him a lifetime of work with the help of friends and in discourse with kindred spirits; for such a person (of whom there are possibly many in our leisured and educated age) for her/him to be able to connect back to the society from which s/he has sprung – like Zarathustra or Moses descending the mountain bearing a treasure of wisdom – usually ends in her/him hitting head-on a stone wall.

The Holy Spirit of my own avowed Master, the Lord Jesus, is such a universal agent operating with and within an active common sympathy; even though The Holy Spirit is not a phenomenon understood by nor acceptable to many (most?) of the secular and material worlds of consumerism, and of due tribute only to science and technology.

Although serve it up on another plate and it might taste better. Tell the astrologers it is in the stars; and tell the psychologists it is in the human psyche; and tell the physicists it is in the nature of particle physics; and you will gather interest and attention – from astrologers, psychologists and physicists.

WHEN THE right virtuous Edward Wotton and I were at the Emperor’ s Court together , we gave ourselves to learn horsemanship of John Pietro Pugliano, one that wit h great commendation had the place of an esquire in his stable . An d he, according to t e fertileness of the Italian wit, did not only afford us the demonstration of his practice, but sought to enrich our minds with the contemplations therein which he thought most precious. But with none I remember mine ears were at any time more loaden, than when (either angered with slow payment, or moved with our learner-like admiration) he exercised his speech in the praise of his faculty. He said, soldiers were the noblest estate of mankind, and horsemen the noblest of soldiers. He said they were the masters of war and ornaments of peace; speedy goers and strong abiders; triumphers both in camps and courts. Nay, to so unbelieved a point he proceeded, as that no earthly thing bred such wonder to a prince as to be a good horseman. Skill of government was but a pedanteria1 in comparison. Then would he add certain praises, by telling what a peerless beast a horse was, the only serviceable courtier without flattery, the beast of most beauty, faithfulness, courage, and such more, that, if I had not been a piece of a logician before I came to him, I think he would have persuaded me to have wished myself a horse .

The specialist will ever explain the universal things of being in terms of the specialism s/he admires and has devoted a lifetime to. And so, together with that hard won accomplishment of having accessed a vantage point from which the nature of things can be interpreted, upon a philosophical and universal application; we silly and frail people like to point to ourselves obliquely by casting our understandings of the riddles of being in terms of the subject discipline which we most admire and affect.

But this may be uncharitable to have said? After all, just as for the Empire ‘all roads led to Rome’, maybe for humanity all roads lead to a single common destination?

This is to say that those who devote themselves to study, and who do so not for power, wealth, fame, influence, status, possessions, reputation; that is, not for all the things of the world the flesh and the devil; but instead because for an earnest, passionate people learning is living, and ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’, and the pursuit of knowledge in their days is vital – not for its own sake – nor for the sake of excellence –  but for the sake of seeking out what thing we might be; and to what/whom might we be beholden for us being this which we are.

‘All roads’ in this sense, I am convinced ‘do lead to Rome’ – Rome being a common consensus held among those who have sought and have found; who have knocked and the door has opened; who have stood alongside guys like this guy, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and in concord made the journey:

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge & shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast & with ah! bright wings.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

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