Koestler Extraordinaire

I have been reading the wonderful biography of Arthur Koestler by Michael Scammell, Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey Of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic (NY: random House, 2009). See the NYTimes Book Review here. Many years ago I remember reading Janus in one sitting, into the wee hours, and feeling a profound sense of mystical wonder as I finished. I wrote in the inside cover–rather naively I suppose–“This might prove to be the most influential book I have yet encountered.” I have posted previously on various bits and pieces of Koestler or Koestler related thoughts and meditations, here are a few links: Parts & Whole, Visiting the Messiah, On the Convert.

Here is a lovely quotation on Koestler’s restless quest for meaning:

If we can speak about the Central European intellectual at all it is because of the personality of Arthur Koestler. His Jewish-Hugaro-Czech origins are a sort of advance warning that explains all his researches and his ambiguity: from }udaism to the theory of assimilation, from Marxism to the absolute negation of communism, from the flirtation with eastern spiritualism to its demystification, from faith in science to doubt of all closed systems, and from the search for the absolute to serene resignation in the face of man’s critical aptitudes.

Danilo Kiš

 

Bits and Bites Here and There


From some of my recent television viewing of various shows, both documentary and scripted:

I don’t really do that. Chat.
Amy Adams in the first episode of Sharp Objects HBO

Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist, nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
Emerson

Come away with me my love, they will not see us for the dust!
Frank Lloyd Wright to Olgivanna

I am guilty only of the deadly sin of having ideas.
Frank Lloyd Wright regarding his love affairs and unconventional choices

Everything Happens for a Purpose?

Everything happens for a purpose? There is a grand plan for every person on earth, every moment of their lives. It is all guided and orchestrated, like a lovely mosaic, only visible from afar. The universe at all times is unfolding precisely as it should be. We just can’t see the whole.  Zeno of Cyprus ( Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς), 4th Century BCE (paraphrased) 
NO! NO! NO! A trillion times NO!
The Keyhole of our Existential Existence
I absolutely do not believe that. I know it is seductively comforting to some but it runs against all historical logic and moral sensitivity. It removes us from the reality of choice and freedom, happenstance, and flukiness. Time and chance happen to all things. Major events turn on the flip of a coin, the bounce of Woody Allen “matchpoint.” Yes, Crimes and Misdemeanors do often pay. All things are contingent. The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley. Worst of all such a view mitigates the horrible reality of tragedy, senseless suffering, and just plain evil. Let pain and suffering and genuine grief and loss be acknowledged. That sort of repression can never in the end be healthy or good, despite any temporary delusion. The truth has a way of breaking in. True character–love, joy, peace, goodness– arises out of the midst of a “world gone wrong,” as Dylan would say–yes, wrong, genuinely wrong, not a scripted set on a stage, but regrettable, horrible wrong! The “sighs and cry” over the “abominations” of our humanly directed world are holy and sacred, not contrived and staged. The “core” of our truest and most honest Selves, however labeled, as God or “Ground of Being” or the “Force,” weeps and cries and struggles with us, as the Process unfolds. This is, by definition, the “best of all possible worlds,” for the split second present, but we can choose in the next future second to steer ourselves and others in a better path.

Losing a Child…

I was totally knocked out by these lines in the HBO series “True Detective” tonight.

A lost child is a void, that echoes backwards and forwards in time. It encompasses not just the rooms you were in with them, and are no longer, or even those rooms you will never enter together. The negation is deeper. It is the knowledge that every room you enter for the rest of your life, they should be there, and are not. And your memories of them become totems to that absence. A lost child is a story that’s never allowed to end.

True Detective, Season 3, Episode 6 at 54:33 minute mark…

Parts Unknown…

As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, leaving your marks behind however small. And in return, life and travel leaves marks on you. Most of the time, marks on your body and heart are beautiful, but sometimes they hurt.

Anthony Bourdain 1956-2018

 

Insulations

By some miracle of smoke and mirrors one can appear much more substantial and accomplished in the eyes of others than we know ourselves to be. We are capable, with wide eyes and clear vision, to see ourselves within and without if we dare to allow that bright light to get in. It is easier to function in a dimmer mode, softening, fading, or even just ignoring this or that feature of our landscape. Professional position, with its day to day demands and drummed up accomplishments, can serve as a most effective insulation against any momentary intrusion of sober truth. Ordering ones surroundings is also an amazingly effective buffer. And thus we muddle on, most days too busy to even reflect on anything that might painfully open any of these vistas. Tabor

Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained in us than lying to others. Dostoyevsky

Myopia

He felt instantly at home in this company and immediately donned the bifocals that would allow him to make sense of the contradictions that confronted him at every turn.