Narnia 2.0

Small and hidden is the door that leads inward, and the entrance is barred by countless prejudices, mistaken assumptions, and fears. Always one wishes to hear of grand political and economic schemes, the very things that have landed every nation in a morass. 

Therefore it sounds grotesque when anyone speaks of hidden doors, dreams, and a world within. What has this vapid idealism got to do with gigantic economic programmes, with the so-called problems of reality?
But I speak not to nations, only to the individual few, for whom it goes without saying that cultural values do not drop down like manna from heaven, but are created by the hands of individuals. If things go wrong in the world, this is because something is wrong with the individual, because something is wrong with me. 

Therefore, if I am sensible, I shall put myself right first. For this I need—because outside authority no longer means anything to me—a knowledge of the innermost foundations of my being, in order that I may base myself firmly on the eternal facts of the human psyche.” 

C.G. Jung, The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man

core seed

“Sometimes I need

only to stand

wherever I am 

to be blessed.” 

— Mary Oliver (Evidence: Poems)

                                  °°°

And this I finally understood…the signs I was seeking on the outside were woven into the fabric of my feelings. The treasures I seek are buried in the character traits I embody. Oh Allaah make my mind a fertile land that receives the rain in abundance, allowing me to bloom in earnest. I’m tired of these imports. 

wipe the slate clean

I’m a companion of my soul. I let it lead me blindly, on pure trust. I’m not afraid of drowning, of getting lost, of disintegrating, of losing control. Because I’ve gone to the edge of each of those fears, and the only thing that got lost was my fear. The only thing that drowned was my burden that I thought I couldn’t survive without. The only loss of control happened to my intellect which really, was a realization that J I never had control to begin with. I was like Maggie Simpson with the steering wheel attached to her car seat, pretending she’s the one driving the car.

 
And maybe destruction lies ahead. Maybe this has all been a fluke. But even so, I’d rather go out with a bang than endure a slow death. I’ll drink that potion. And just because I know that my anxiety is unfounded doesn’t make it any less potent. It’s not something I can ever stifle or ‘fix’; I’ll just accept it as a price to pay for living fully.


 

“In actuality, no one ever sank so deep that he could not sink deeper, and there may be one or many who sank deeper. But he who sank in possibility — his eye became dizzy, his eye became confused… Whoever is educated by possibility is exposed to danger, not that of getting into bad company and going astray in various ways as are those educated by the finite, but in danger of a fall, namely, suicide. If at the beginning of education he misunderstands the anxiety, so that it does not lead him to faith but away from faith, then he is lost.
On the other hand, whoever is educated [by possibility] remains with anxiety; he does not permit himself to be deceived by its countless falsification and accurately remembers the past.
Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them. For him, anxiety becomes a serving spirit that against its will leads him where he wishes to go.”

 

 

– Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety


 

“We can understand Kierkegaard’s ideas on the relation between guilt

and anxiety only by emphasizing that he is always speaking of anxiety in its relation to creativity.

Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self, as well as creating in all the innumerable daily activities (and these are two phases of the same process) — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever.
Now creating, actualizing one’s possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living.
If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibility to himself. Hence refusal to actualize one’s possibilities brings guilt toward one’s self.
But creating also means destroying the status quo of one’s environment, breaking the old forms; it means producing something new and original in human relations as well as in cultural forms (e.g., the creativity of the artist).
Thus every experience of creativity has its potentiality of aggression or denial toward other persons in one’s environment or established patterns within one’s self.

To put the matter figuratively, in every experience of creativity something in the past is killed that something new in the present may be born.”

– Rollo May, The Meaning of Anxiety

gateway goodness

May I be an enemy to no one and the friend of what abides eternally.

May I never quarrel with those nearest me, and be reconciled quickly if I should. 

May I never plot evil against others, and if anyone plot evil against me, 

may I escape unharmed and without the need to hurt anyone else.

May I love, seek and attain only what is good. 

May I desire happiness for all and harbor envy for none.

May I never find joy in the misfortune of one who has wronged me.

May I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make reparation.

May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent.

May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other.

May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary help to my friends and to all who are in need.

May I never fail a friend in trouble.

May I be able to soften the pain of the grief stricken and give them comforting words.

May I respect myself.

May I always maintain control of my emotions.

May I habituate myself to be gentle, and never angry with others because of circumstances.

May I never discuss the wicked or what they have done, but know good people and follow in their footsteps. 

— Eusebius, Prayer to practice the Golden Rule

Rebecca Solnit

The desire to go home that is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.

  • Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.”

  • Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don’t–and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown.

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost

A path is a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape.

  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking

 

Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?(Plato)

The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration- how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost

 

Despair is a form of certainty, certainty that the future will be a lot like the present or decline from it. Optimism is similarly confident about what will happen. Both are grounds for not acting. Hope can be the knowledge that reality doesn’t necessarily match our plans.

  • Men Explain Things to Me

To write is to carve a new path through the terrain of the imagination, or to point out new features on a familiar route. To read is to travel through that terrain with the author as a guide– a guide one might not always agree with or trust, but who can at least be counted on to take one somewhere.

  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking

But hope is not about what we expect. It is an embrace of the essential unknowability of the world, of the breaks with the present, the surprises. Or perhaps studying the record more carefully leads us to expect miracles – not when and where we expect them, but to expect to be astonished, to expect that we don’t know. And this is grounds to act.

  • Hope in the Dark

Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes–you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable, a alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what is may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.

  • Hope in the Dark

If the boundaries of the self are defined by what we feel, then those who cannot feel even for themselves shrink within their own boundaries, while those who feel for others are enlarged, and those who feel compassion for all beings must be boundless. They are not separate, not alone, not lonely, not vulnerable in the same way as those of us stranded in the islands of ourselves, but they are vulnerable in other ways. Still, that sense of the dangers in feeling for others is so compelling that many withdraw, and develop elaborate stories to justify withdrawal, and then forget that they have shrunk. Most of us do, in one way or another.

 

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

The possibility of paradise hovers on the cusp of coming into being, so much so that it takes powerful forces to keep such a paradise at bay. If paradise now arises in hell, it’s because in the suspension of the usual order and the failure of most systems, we are free to live and act another way.

  • A Paradise Built in Hell

 

Paradise is not the place in which you arrive but the journey toward it. Sometimes I think victories must be temporary or incomplete; what kind of humanity would survive paradise? The industrialized world has tried to approximate paradise in its suburbs, with luxe, calme, volupté, cul-de-sacs, cable television and two-car garages, and it has produced a soft ennui that shades over into despair and a decay of the soul suggesting that Paradise is already a gulag. Countless desperate teenagers will tell you so. For paradise does not require of us courage, selflessness, creativity, passion: paradise in all accounts is passive, is sedative, and if you read carefully, soulless.

  • Hope in the Dark

Creation is always in the dark because you can only do the work of making by not quite knowing what you’re doing, by walking into darkness, not staying in the light.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

Resistance is first of all a matter of principle and a way to live, to make yourself one small republic of unconquered spirit. You hope for results, but you don’t depend on them.

  • Hope in the Dark

 

He ceased to be lost not by returning but by turning into something else.

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost

 

To dig deeper into the self, to go underground, is sometimes necessary, but so is the other route of getting out of yourself, into the larger world, into the openness in which you need not clutch your story and your troubles so tightly to your chest.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

A labyrinth is an ancient device that compresses a journey into a small space, winds up a path like thread on a spool. It contains beginning, confusion, perseverance, arrival, and return. There at last the metaphysical journey of your life and your actual movements are one and the same. You may wander, may learn that in order to get to your destination you must turn away from it, become lost, spin about, and then only after the way has become overwhelming and absorbing, arrive, having gone the great journey without having gone far on the ground.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

I wish that I could put up yesterday’s evening sky for all posterity, could preserve a night of love, the sound of a mountain stream, a realization as it sets my mind afire, a dance, a day of harmony, ten thousand glorious days of clouds that will instead vanish and never be seen again, line them up in jars where they might be admired in the interim and tasted again as needed.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

What we dream of is already present in the world.

  • Hope in the Dark

 

Some portion of Woolf’s genius, it seems to me, is that having no notion, that negative capability. I once heard about a botanist in Hawaii with a knack for finding new species by getting lost in the jungle, by going beyond what he knew and how he knew, by letting experience be larger than his knowledge, by choosing reality rather than the plan. Woolf not only utilized but celebrated the unpredictable meander, on mind and foot. Her great essay Street Haunting: A London Adventure, from 1930, has the light breezy tone of many of her early essays, and yet voyages deep into the dark.

  • Men Explain Things to Me

Holosynthesis

The people thrown into other cultures go through something of the anguish of the butterfly, whose body must disintegrate and reform more than once in its life cycle. 

In her novel “Regeneration,” Pat Barker writes of a doctor who “knew only too well how often the early stages of change or cure may mimic deterioration. Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar. What you will never find is that mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly, a fit emblem of the human soul, for those whose cat of mind leads them to seek such emblems. No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.” 
But the butterfly is so fit an emblem of the human soul that its name in Greek is “psyche,” the word for soul. We have not much language to appreciate this phase of decay, this withdrawal, this era of ending that must precede beginning. Nor of the violence of the metamorphosis, which is often spoken of as though it were as graceful as a flower blooming.

Rebecca Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost)

is religion antiquated?

When people denounce religion in a reductivist way as to imply that modernity should make us all transcend such baseness, it makes me fear for humanity. Those who say this are usually white people in industrialized nations, where they are so far removed from the raw human condition that dwells in the cracks of suffering like poverty like death of children like rampant spread of crippling diseases, that they’ve forgotten their insignificant place in this universe.

 
Religion is ingrained in the subconscious as an archetype – it’s shaped the paths we’ve crossed as a collective from time immemorial. When you look down on it, you have put yourself at the centre of the universe. You’ve erased your human limits and imperfections because modern conveniences insulates you from feeling the powerlessness this man felt.

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