Thursday, February 27, 2014
FAITH WITHOUT BELIEF:FROM THE JOURNAL OF 1999
and view the foreground of thought, which is not thought at all , but a spinning diamond
emerging from the waves or mist in washes of color.
Parked there at the promontory, I will begin to see the light and study it, really, for the
next clue of what to do and how to do it. This is mainly for painting, because the inward
voice to which I used to attend is mostly hushed now. It does not feel gone, departed,
nor do I feel abandoned as much as at another stage, dry when I was once drenched,
temperate rather than tempest tossed. Is this something to be afraid of?
Well, I do feel remote, on my own, without mysticism or myth, but retaining some sense
of keeping faith with I know not what. Yet I must keep faith and I will.
Oliver Sacks connects such idioretinal imagery with migraines, as Hildegarde von Bingen
connected them will mystical ecstasy. I myself connect them with a voyage into some
realm --perhaps my own neurological processes, perhaps the inner locality where
these processes connect with information on the airwaves, television, radio, other
peoples' thoughts--the place where ideas form and alternately disperse.
But here here is no proof or interpretation which can be confirmed or refuted., merely
myriad images from which I draw some subject matter and a kind of peace.
I am aware that some call this "God" but I am opposed to calling it anything.
Whatever we call "God" is something more and something less than an entity.
It is not so separate after all, or so different from us, though we are different
from what we think we know. It will not rescue us from the hands of evil,
or spare us sorrow but it does pose an alternative in the midst of sorrow.
Therefore I may maintain an equilibrium.
There among the tattered blowsy pink romance novels and self help books
and discarded manuals for professions of a Bartleby-the-Scrivener-like inconsequence
at the Library's perpetual book sale is a copy of Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet
to be had for a quarter.
I reread it over a sandwich wondering at the firm belief in the efficacy of solitude and
the eventual arrival of the God to come.
It is enough to make me weep--if I might weep--at the diminished world,
for I have paid the price both in the lawful coin of the realm and in the petty
tariffs excised on the backroads of mere survival. Yes, it is true, I think,
reading Rilke, except in the reckoning of the expense.This can not be known
Remember the little apartment on Golden Gate, that nightly voice always calling,calling
your name, always recognized as hallucinatory, and yet responded to each night
by going to the window never-the-less? Or those nightmare days following Jamal's death?
This is also the efficacy of solitude.
Those glimmerings of poetry like a gas-jet burning low are the only consolation--that and
walks in parks where it is always autumn.
Beyond the plate-glass window, it is always masculine and heartily convivial, or
sleek and chic, or clever and deeply profane in a business-like way, for the
whore World must be paid. And there is some illicit relationship between the
gladiatorial spectacular and the grommet counting of slaves but this you will never
And that perpetual sense of a vibration--the gods just about to rain down,
cleansing the picture--will not keep you fed. For that you must scrub pots and
crockery, and then footwearily tread a narrow stair,, or shovel gravel all the day. This is
What Rilke could not do was abolish the coin of the realm, and all the transactions
connected with it.
Now I find a beauty in the onerous, and no longer care--not perpetually,
though there is a wist--for the absence of an interlocutor or perfected understanding.
Yes, we would be understood, and on our own terms, and in our own language
--but this is a chimaera, and will not come. To know this and try to act with loving
kindness, even to smile, and be amused, is what I try to do.
Is this the God to come? Not quite.
Not quite, because as much as one would stand outside of time, this is
merely the illusion of a mood, an attitude, and one is in time all the while
and of it. The ruin is not atemporal. It can crumble further, and it will. I, too,
Nor would I want an eternal life if it consist of my limited self,
my personality, my foibles. My memories would be insufferable stretched
to eternity, like a rubber band spanning the equator.
Fortunately, memories are eclipsed by others. I behold who I was then
Or rather, I wonder at why this or that would have shaken me, why
love was such a flagellation, and grief paralysis, and delusion rife.
Why I placed trust in something I inwardly knew to be false and then
was disappointed.... Misplaced faith I wonder at, and the haplessness
of Rilkean solitude, waiting for the angel on some cold concrete bench
the fallen leaves of November at one's feet as practical matters are
engulfed in a whirl pool and sink.
Letters unwritten and letters un-mailed I wonder at,too, and the weird
variety of omens fabricated from cracks in the sidewalk or a scrap
of newspaper momentarily whirled upward by the wind while in flight.
Music heard as an unearthly visitant, the step on the threshold foretold
--never to fall-- I recall from a thousand times. It had meaning ,yes,but
no interpretation was true. Landscapes that seemed to open onto
a new era closed as I passed through. It was a glory to behold them
but not mine