Tuesday, April 04, 2006

lost and found

If ever again you pass my humble mound,

Stop and say, "My love, whom sorrow killed..."

From the blood-soaked field I'll cry out loud:

"You are my Joseph, who was lost and now is found."

#1483: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

I've come across William Blake a couple of times recently, first in a book I've been glancing through (Meeting the Shadow, an anthology of writings on the shadow, edited and with contributions by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams) and then in a recent comment from Bob (at a lone pillar). The book was somewhat of a disappointment with the writings being of very mixed quality and often pulled out of context and thereby trivialized. However, it did include poems (by Rumi, among others) at the end of sections and this one caught my eye:

All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors:
1. That Man has two real existing principles; Viz: a Body & a Soul.
2. That Energy, calld Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, calld Good, is alone from the Soul.
3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.

But the following Contraries to these are True:
1 Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that called Body is a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.
2. Energy is the only life, and is from the Body; and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3. Energy is Eternal Delight.

- William Blake, The Voice of the Devil from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

While searching for an online version of this poem (or poetic excerpt), I came across a Wikipedia article on the Blaketashi Darwishes who combine a wicked love of Blake with a mock reverence for Sufism. A good deal of reading fun can be had at their own site with useful information being provided especially on their FAQ page. Here is an example of their tongue-in-cheek style:

"How should one pronounce Arabic in the presence of an Arabic speaker when the sound of the word in Arabic is very different from how it is written in English?" asks a reader. The truth is very simple. Arabic is simply a deterioration of the prima lingua, which is English, and the correct pronunciation, even of Arabic, is the English pronunciation. Be proud of your pronunciation, dear reader! It may be the first time your Arab guest ever heard his name pronounced properly!

I've been feeling forlorn about this blog and I think it is because it hasn't come together as something that could evolve into a book. It is simply too flawed, too uneven in style. The reality behind this loss of motivation was brought home to me in a news article this morning about a prize-winning blog-to-book success:

Julie Powell, a frustrated unpublished author approaching 30 in a dead-end office job, came up with the idea of trying to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her husband suggested chronicling her efforts online, where her musings on life, love and cooking drew an ever-larger cult following. The blog led to a publishing deal, and the resulting tome, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Kitchen Apartment, sold more than 100,000 copies.

source: From blog to book, a recipe for success

There is a similarity here with my decision to ruminate on the 367 (or one year's worth of) quatrains translated by Zara Houshmand and available online at Iranian.com. There is a big difference in that no cult following eventuated, but just one loyal "lover" emerged. That seems fitting somehow but also hard to sustain, on both sides.

I was originally attracted to Rumi precisely because I was unaware of any in-depth Jungian commentary on him or even on Sufism as a general phenomenon. There have been good studies of our own mystic poets, William Blake especially and most noteworthily by June Singer in Blake, Jung, and the Collective Unconscious: The Conflict Between Reason and Imagination. This link is to a 2000 edition, with an introduction by Esther Harding who died in 1971. I don't know the date of the original edition but I would guess it was close to 1970, not much before Harding's death.

The Jungian silence on Rumi and Sufism matches Jung's own silence on Islam. Dr. Durre S. Ahmad, in her long essay Islam and the West: A Cultural and Psychological Analysis, has taken the trouble of examining every reference to Islam in Jung's Collected Works. The main but isolated commentary surrounds the story of the Green Man or Al-Khidr who turns up in Sura 18 of the Quran and which Jung discusses at length in an essay titled "A Typical Set of Symbols Illustrating the Process of Transformation" in Volume 9. This theme is explored in greater depth in the second part of Ahmad's essay: Jung and the 18th Surah.

It's funny. Today's quatrain is about a treasure lost and then found. In asking myself why I have lost my love or interest in Rumi, I'm beginning to sense a renewal, I'm beginning to feel new energies arise. Perhaps an injection of Blake was needed indeed. Perhaps I need to connect Rumi to Blake. There is so much resonance there that really, they do seem to speak with the One Voice. However, the tangled threads of connectivity do need to be drawn out some more and that could be an interesting task ahead, taking me beyond the original planned year.


At Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

You mentioned the Green Man, and that reminds me of a line from a character in a Tom Robbins book. He says that people of European descent, if they're gonna be religious, should stick to their original Western religion (e.g. Wicca) because Xtianity, Judaism and Islam are all Eastern religions and foreign to us. Something about that appealed to me.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Blogger Arizona said...

Jung saw the Nazi pagan resurgence as symptomatic of a return of the repressed. Yes, Christianity does have a lot to answer for, especially as it was imposed on the local people through Roman emperialism. And just when Wicca and similar trends are trying to bring back those older religious expressions we get the current Islamic cultural and terrorist invasion. There is no way that witches and crones would be able to live in peace in a world at all dictated to by Islam.


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