Thursday, January 19, 2006

bad hair day

I'm tangled, like the curls of my love's hair;

Like a snake encharmed, I turn and twist.

What is this knot, this dizzy maze, this snare?

All I know: if I'm not tangled here, I don't exist.

#1210: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

I'm continuing to dream of major conflict, of great End of the World battles between Good and Evil. I may have been pushed along somewhat by reading a review, yesterday, of James Hillman's A Terrible Love of War in which he explores the character of the war god, Ares (Mars), and concludes that only the love goddess, Aphrodite (Venus), can mitigate our impulse to enact war on life's stage. I gather that he suggests that we work harder at making more and better works of aesthetic excellence. The answer to our war lust lies in writing poetry and the like.

Looking among the reviews on the page, I note the scepticism expressed by one editorial reviewer: "And perhaps only Jungians will understand his baffling assertion that aesthetic passion (or, in archetypal terms, devotion to Venus) can slow our ceaseless rush to war." Another reviewer "found his musing on classical philosophy and mythology futile and self-important; it was one of those exercises in the writer's erudition rather than in anything that really advances the cause." I confess that I have found this also among Jungian writings. There is a sense of elitism, of disconnection from ordinary realities. Sometimes I can recognize that I write like that myself, probably through a process of osmosis.

There needs, therefore, to be some remedy for this tendency. That is why I'm currently studying so very hard under Rumi who, today, invites us all to become joyfully entangled in love's complications. Here, also, is a concluding excerpt from a wonderful aesthetic collaboration between poet Jonathan Star and translator Shahram Shiva of Rumi's Ode 598:

O friend,
Forget all your stories and fancy words.
Let friend and stranger look upon you
And see a flood of light! -
The door of heaven opening!
        Let them be so lucky!

And what of those
Who walk toward Shamsuddin?
Their feet grow weary,
They fall to the ground in utter exhaustion
But then come the wings of His love,
Lifting them,

        Who could be so lucky?

Beauty is not merely for entertainment. Perhaps it is there to save the world. It isn't something to be grasped, controlled, or owned. As Rumi suggests, it is something to become lost in, absorbed in, so much so that nothing else exists, so much so that we come to realize that we ourselves do not exist unless we lose ourselves in our own unravelling story. Let every day be a bad hair day and the only kind of day worth living.


At Friday, 20 January, 2006, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

Nietszche wrote of aesthetic concerns and he was also used as a philosphical basis for Naziism.

And what was more beautiful than the Nazi rallies at Nuremberg?

I wish it were true, but I don't believe beauty defeats war. I think we have to physically evolve into more compassionate and less antagonistic creatures. I believe war will only stop when we're physically incapable of it. Which means we will have to become something other than human.

At Friday, 20 January, 2006, Blogger Arizona said...

I remember reading a similar argument in one of the books by Arthur Koestler. He argued that the same equipment that makes us creative on a grand scale also makes us destructive on the same scale. He could see no way out but through some kind of genetic engineering as you yourself suggest in your idea of (presumably accelerated) physical evolution. There are a lot of difficult issues, both moral and practical, around that concept.

You can also physically engineer human beings using drugs as is proposed in the current mental health "cleansing" program of the Bush administration. Identify those who are mad and thus potentially bad, then dose them up to render them harmless. I don't believe that current politics, psychiatry and pharmacology know clearly enough what they're doing.

I do believe the aesthetic solution can work if applied at the smaller scales of the individual and the smaller local community. Create beauty in your own personal and local garden and you will be less inclined to seek the thrills that warfare clearly uses to seduce us.

All and any option should be kept in the debate, however. The final "answer" might be a mixed approach.


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