Tuesday, February 27, 2007

At the university

I talked about bloguilt, now I will talk about backblog. No I won't. This is just to say that I am in the sanctuary of McGill this morning. Last week was reading week, so I was hoping to use Tuesday to get caught up, but I ended up spending most of the day in bed, digesting.

I left home earlier than I usually do on Tuesdays. It is a bit milder than it has been--we've been having a fairly protracted cold spell since the middle of January--and I stopped in a coffeeshop to read before coming to my office at McGill.

I have been reading an article by James Hillman on the fiction of the case history. I don't read as quickly as I used to; somehow, everything I read has some significance, some value that is worthy of reflection. I no longer think that I need to swallow the whole universe, there seems to be plenty of nourishment to be had in smaller doses. That is, of course, if the doses come from the right source. "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Which nicely brings me to the passage from Hillman that gave me good cheer this morning. Without going into the context too extensively, for it is a complex article, Hillman says that he is speaking of "history... as an equivalent for soul-making, as a digestive operation." In this context he writes:

All haste comes from the devil, as an old saying goes, which psychologically means that one's devil is to be found in one's indigestion, in having more events than are experienced. What we do experience by putting through an imaginative process such as history (in the soul sense) is taken off the streets of time and out of the ignorant sea of my mental turbulence. We beat the devil by simply standing still.

For this reason, I worship psychologically especially at the altar of the God of historical time and slowness, Saturn, the archetypal swallower, who teaches us the art of internal digestion through the syndrome of his magistral depressions.


A wonderful writer, no doubt. I immediately put on my japa beads and began to digest with the help of those Harinam enzymes.

What I am trying to do, standing still as I am in this limbo of a life, is change paradigms; change stories as you will have it. This is what Hillman means by digestion. Accounting for the naked facts of Divine Mercy. This is difficult when so much of what has gone before is centered around the acceptance or rejection of a single monolithic story--the one that starts: "brahmande bhramite kono bhagyavan jiva, guru-krishna-prasade pay bhakti-lata bija."

Of course, I do not reject this story; it has simply taken me down roads that I did not expect, roads that require new explanations, new narratives to account for them. The Brahmanda Bhramite story I call "the Sharadiya Rasa." The new story is inside that one, and I call it "the Vasanta Rasa."

End of interlude.



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