via my friend Charles Sides’ blog “from my reading.”
From Charles Sides, “From My Reading.”
This article is somewhat whimsically entitled “The Hippies Were Right: It’s All about Vibrations, Man!”, and subtitled “A new theory of consciousness.”
New to Western Science, perhaps. God, when even Scientific American starts to get the idea, what’s next?
My friend Chris Nelson sends me this 13-minute film clip of Brad Spurgeon interviewing Colin Wilson in 2006.
Colin was a wonderful man, a natural networker who encouraged many a struggling writer to keep on trying to express what they had to say. It seemed to be his nature to encourage people, to cheer them up, to say, “Come on, you can do it; the best is yet to come.” Certainly that is the effect he had on me, 25 long years before we met from the time that I, at age 24, encountered him in the form of a science-fiction paperback (The Mind Parasites) with a serious message. It must have been the same for thousands of others. What a great if invisible legacy!
It has been five years since Colin dropped the body. One wonders what fun he has been having in his new revised edition (as Ben Franklin put it) outside the confines of time and space.
Emerson again. Still relevant as ever.
“Because our education is defective, because we are superficial and ill-read, we are forced to make the most of that position, of ignorance. Hence America is a vast know-nothing party, and we disparage books, and cry up intuition…. [D]enouncing libraries and severe culture and magnifying the mother-wit swagger of bright boys from the country colleges, we have even come so far as to deceive everybody, except ourselves, into an admiration of un-learning and inspiration, forsooth.”
“Felton told of [scientist Louis] Agazzi, that when someone applied to him to read lectures, or some other paying employment, he answered, ‘I can’t waste my time earning money.’”
“George Francis Train said in a public speech in New York, ‘Slavery is a divine institution.’ ‘So is hell,’ exclaimed an old man in the crowd.”
July (?), 1865:
“I think it a singular and marked result that the War has established a conviction in so many minds that the right will get done; has established a chronic hope for a chronic despair.”
“In the perplexity in which the literary public now stands with regard to university education … the one safe investment which all can agree to increase is the library.”
“God had infinite time to give us; but how did He give it? In one immense tract of a lazy millennium? No, but He cut it up into neat succession of new mornings, and, with each, therefore, a new idea, new inventions, and new applications.”
“One thing is certain: the religions are obsolete when the reforms do not proceed from them.”
Lately I have been “sinfully strolling from book to book,” as Emerson once put it, re-reading at the same time The Heart of Emerson’s Journals and W.B. Yeats’s Autobiographies. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) and William Butler Yeats (1856-1939), are both long dead, sort of, and both as alive as ever, as these citations demonstrate.
Some gems from the two books recorded in my journal as I went along, here sorted by author.
Emerson, at age 18 or thereabouts, in his journal: “We forget ourselves and our destinies in health, and the chief use of temporary sickness is to remind us of these concerns. I must improve my time better.”
June, 1831: “A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.”
April, 1834: “All the mistakes I make arise from forsaking my own station and trying to see the object from another person’s point of view.”
November, 1839: “… although no diligence can rebuild the universe in a model by the best accumulation of disposition of details, yet does the world reproduce itself in miniature in every event that transpires, so that all the laws of nature may be read in the smallest fact. So that the truth-speaker may dismiss all solicitude as to the proportion and congruency of the aggregate of his thoughts, so long as he is a faithful reporter of particular impressions.”
June, 1840: “In silence we must wrap much of our life, because it is too fine for speech, because also we cannot explain it to others, and because somewhat we cannot yet understand.”
1841: “When Jones Very was in Concord, he said to me, ‘I always felt when I heard you speak or read your writings that you saw the truth better than others, yet I felt that your spirit was not quite right. It was as if a vein of colder air blew across me.’”
1842: “How slowly, how slowly we learn that witchcraft and ghostcraft, palmistry and magic, and all the other so-called superstitions, which, with so much police, boastful skepticism and scientific committees, we had finally dismissed to the moon as nonsense, are really no nonsense at all, but subtle and valid influences, always starting up, mowing, muttering in our path, and shading our day.”
1842: “I have no thoughts today. What then? What difference does it make? It is only that there does not chance today to be an antagonism to evolve them, the electricity is the more accumulated; a week hence you shall meet somebody or something that shall draw from you a shower of sparks.”
1847: “I think I have material enough to serve my countrymen with thought and music, if only it was not scraps. But men do not want handfuls of gold dust, but ingots.”
Emerson, 1847, in a quotation I have cherished for years:
The Superstitions of our Age:
The fear of Catholicism;
The fear of pauperism;
The fear of immigration;
The fear of manufacturing interests;
The fear of radicalism or democracy;
And faith in the steam engine.
1848: “Happy is he who looks only into his work to know if it will succeed, never into the times or the public opinion; and who writes from the love of imparting certain thoughts and not from the necessity of sale – who writes always to the unknown friend.” [Itals Emerson’s]
1848: “The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next election, if we believe the newspapers. But so it was last year, and so it was the year before, and our fathers believed the same thing forty years ago.”
1849: “A feature of the times is, when I was born, private and family prayer was in the use of all well-bred people, and now it is not known.”
1854: “Realism. We shall pass for what we are. Do not fear to die because you have not done your task. Whenever a noble soul comes, the audience awaits. And he is not judged by his performance, but by the spirit of his performance….”
1854: “We affirm and affirm, but neither you nor I know the value of what we say.”
1855: “Munroe seriously asked what I believed of Jesus and prophets. I said, as so often, that it seemed to me an impiety to be listening to one and another, when the pure Heaven was pouring itself into each of us, on the simple condition of obedience. To listen to any second-hand gospel is perdition of the First Gospel. Jesus was Jesus because he refused to listen to another, and listened at home.”
These quotations from Yeats are from a finished work, rather than a journal, and so cannot be dated.
“Yet it was a Yeats [that is, a member of his father’s side of the family] who spoke the only eulogy that turns my head. ‘We have ideas and no passions, but by marriage with a Pollexfen we have given a tongue to the sea cliffs.’” [p. 23]
Yeats, “I was vexed and bewildered, and am still bewildered and still vexed, finding it a poor and crazy thing that we who have imagined so many noble persons cannot bring our flesh to heel.” [p. 40]
Yeats, “My thoughts were a great excitement, but when I tried to do anything with them, it was like trying to pack a balloon into a shed in a high wind.” [p. 41]
Yeats, “I now can but share with a friend my thoughts and my emotions, and there is a continual discovery of difference, but in those days, before I had found myself, we could share adventures. When friends plan and do together, their minds become one mind and the last secret disappears.” [p. 48]
Yeats, “I began occasionally telling people that one should believe whatever had been believed in all countries and periods, and only reject any part of it after much evidence, instead of starting all over afresh and only believing what one could prove. But I was always ready to deny or turn into a joke what was for all that my secret fanaticism.” [pp. 78-79]
Yeats, “I had as many ideas as I have now, only I did not know how to choose from among them those that belonged to my life.” [p. 83]
Yeats, “We all have our simplifying image, our genius, and such hard burden does it lay upon us that, but for the praise of others, we would deride it and hunt it away.” [p. 121]
Yeats, speaking of William Morris, quotes someone as saying, “He is always afraid that he is doing something wrong and generally is.” 🙂
Yeats, “… I can see some like imagining [that is, some similar imagining] in every great change, and believe that the first flying-fish first leaped, not because it sought ‘adaptation’ to the air, but out of horror of the sea.” [p. 143]
Yeats, “When a man writes any work of genius, or invents some creative action, is it not because some knowledge or power has come into his mind from beyond his mind? It is called up by an image, as I think … but our images must be given to us, we cannot choose them deliberately.” [p. 272]
Speaking of the work that he and J.M. Synge and Lady Gregory had done, and why: “I think as I speak these words of how deep down we have gone, below all that is individual, modern and restless, seeking foundations for an Ireland that can only come into existence in a Europe that is still but a dream.” [p. 554]
And a quotation from Frank DeMarco! Thinking of the journal entries from 2006 that I have been posting, I wrote:
“I just had this thought: ‘I have not lived without purpose entirely; it’s just that it wasn’t necessarily my purpose.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, that’s good. Yeats would have liked that.’”
Last week at this time, I was getting ready to do the lecture / workshop at Bridge Between the Worlds that my friend Michael Langevin had set up.
I had the workshop down. I had pulled together the notes on how I had done it years ago at the Quest bookshop in Charlottesville, when I taught people in an afternoon how to get into touch with guidance, and at The Monroe Institute, when Bob Holbrook and I had conducted a weekend workshop on the same topic, only with a little more detail.
But the talk? That was another thing. Because of the way intuition works, every time I engage to talk to people, it’s a free-form thing. Rather than try to work from a prepared script, I wing it, in order to stay connected to the participants and to the sense of the moment. You think that can’t be nerve-wracking? Every time, I have to wonder if it will be as the old saying has it, that those who wait for the inspiration of the moment may find that the moment arrives and the inspiration doesn’t.
It hasn’t ever happened that way so far, but there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen next time. The possibility exists. So why do I take the chance? Why don’t I show up with a prepared text that I can fall back on if need be? Well, isn’t dependence upon the moment the very essence of guidance? Isn’t that what I’m aiming to demonstrate, that we don’t need to live armored against the moment?
We’ll do it again next Saturday at the Open Heart Yoga center in Charlottesville. No guarantees that inspiration will arrive with the moment, but I assume it will. So far, so good.