Friday, April 22, 2005


It was the word "suffering" that announced itself during the night, as if it was the one idea my soul desired to see me writing on.
The suffering one to whom you offered solace,

The sad one who drank your happiness,

Looks again in vain to taste your wine's first taste.

If you pour no more, memory's dregs are waste.

#1663: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

This struck me as a difficult quatrain, the meaning not obvious to me at all. When Rumi writes "you", I identify with that and think he means "me". Since I'm not one to offer solace much or to try to lift the spirits of a person who is down, I found it hard to identify with this. Still, I do these things both for myself and for those around me. I am constantly in need of lifting up my own spirits and new wine, new motivations and inspirations, are also constantly in need. Where do these spring from?

In alchemy, this source is depicted as a fountain gushing forth the water of life. In Scheherazade's story, she herself is the fount of stories that keep the Sultan keen to see through another day. Salman Rushdie in Haroun and the Sea of Stories depicts the source as a magic "Ocean of the Stream of Stories".
[Haroun] looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity ...

Clearly Rushdie has written a meta-meta-story (or perhaps even a meta-meta-meta-story) in contrast to the plain meta-story of the mere thousand and one nights. It is said he wrote the story for his son and it seems to say that story-telling is a living and ongoing task. He seems to be defending his own vocation despite its attendant risks, arising especially from the publication of The Satanic Verses and the subsequent fatwa or death sentence.

There are so many directions in which I could take this quatrain that I rather fancy that it is itself such a gushing source of infinite inspiration. Through one pulsating association after another, a chain of resonances are set up inside my brain and I can recall so many good stories that have meant something to me once, that have lifted my spirits and urged me to live and love this life with all its suffering and sorrow.


Post a Comment

<< Home