“Be a boxer, not a gladiator, in the way you act on your principles. The gladiator takes up his sword only to put it down again, but the boxer is never without his fist and only has to clench it.”—Marcus Aurelius, The Emperor’s Handbook: A New Translation of the Meditations (Book 12:9)
“What I wanted was to die among strangers, untroubled, beneath a cloudless sky. And yet my desire differed from the sentiments of that ancient Greek who wanted to die under the brilliant sun. What I wanted was some natural, spontaneous suicide. I wanted a death like that of a fox, not yet well versed in cunning, that walks carelessly along a mountain path and is shot by a hunter because of its own stupidity…”—Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask
After three years we walk the same stream, and I have never seen the course run so dry. The time between has seen the stuff of life. Dreams pursued. Loves chased, and laid to waste. Hopes reduced to smolders, and fanned back to flame. We walk the same stream course and the same sights have somehow changed. Perhaps it is the season. The rains haven’t come yet, and the great black mushroom we found still clutches the same redwood trunk, but it has withered. I fear it a parallel, as if something great in me has withered to match. Have I lost the eyes for beauty whence I possessed, when everything was dream? Or perhaps it is the season.
I suppose I want to believe that there are those that still know the quiet. Those that can detect the language encoded in the blood of the living, so influenced by the dead who in their waking days carried within that same blood the wisdom of every antecedent and in so living contributed yet more to that chemical evolution. I suppose I want to believe that inherently my body may know, even though my mind forgot, which water is safe to drink, and the hollow where safely I might sleep. And I believe that somewhere out there beyond the interstate and the drone of commerce, lies a silence that one can learn as fluently as any language. I believe that within each heart lay dormant a dimension of instinct which cannot be forsaken, no matter the interference supplanted to obscure it. And I aim to know it.
“Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
And all my soul, and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account;
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed
Beated and chopp’d with tanned antiquity,
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read;
Self so self-loving were iniquity.
‘Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise,
Painting my age with beauty of thy days.”—William Shakespeare, Sonnet LXII
“Her antiquity in preceding and surviving succeeding tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.”—James Joyce, Ulysses
“No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence—that which makes its truth, its meaning—its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream—alone.”—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
In the outer darkness he woke to no weeping nor gnashing of teeth, but to a cold silence where her breath did not rise or fall and the absence of it brought all at once a cold swell over him and he knew he would not know her again in the space between his shoulder and chest where her cheek lay cradled for countless nights which he vowed then never to forswear to mere pallid recollection. He rose and made his way to the window and looked out upon the sky where the morning star began to fade into the pale light. There was one tree red with autumn, and in the light of the rising sun it shone like a translucent mist of blood against the still green oaks. A ghostly stain that did not wane but grew with the ascending light, and he thanked the dawn for coming once more and hoped his heart might find the strength to follow it.
- “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” October 24th, 2013 -