Sunday, January 15, 2017

Bohemian Slavic Heritage in the Antipodia

“A poem is an invocation, rebellious return to the blessedness of beginning again, wandering free in pure process of forgetting and finding. ”
—Susan Howe, Academy of American Poets Chancellor (2000–2006)

St. Mark’s In Venice Is Scaffold-Free For First Time In 23 Years

Unfortunately, this may last only a few months.

Slovakia is the best country for book lovers

Slovakia has the biggest number of libraries per citizen, according to University ... "Slovakia, it turns out, is a paradise for book lovers"

The Science of Stress and How Our Emotions Affect Our Susceptibility to Burnout and Disease

One remembers the sentence which won the contest of wisdom in ancient Greece: “This too will pass.” The pain of transience haunted Goethe’s Faust; he implored the beautiful figure who appeared to him: “Verweile doch, Du bist so schön!” Linger a while, for you are so beautiful! 


Now the dead past seems vividly alive,
    And in this shining moment I can trace,
Down through the vista of the vanished years,
    Your faun-like form, your fond elusive face.
And suddenly come secret spring’s released,
    And unawares a riddle is revealed,
And I can read like large, black-lettered print,
    What seemed before a thing forever sealed.
I know the magic word, the graceful thought,
    The song that fills me in my lucid hours,
The spirit’s wine that thrills my body through,
    And makes me music-drunk, are yours, all yours.

O’Donohue considers the only human faculty that appeases and anneals us to the inescapable transience of all experience, including life itself:

Out of the fiber and density of each experience transience makes a ghost. The future, rich with possibility, becomes a vacant past. Every thing, no matter how painful, beautiful or sonorous, recedes into the silence of transience. Transience too is the maker of the final silence, the silence of death.
Is the silence which transience brings a vacant silence? Does everything vanish into emptiness? Like the patterns which birdflight makes in the air, is there nothing left? Where does the flame go when the candle is blown out? Is there a place where the past can gather? I believe there is. That place is memory. That which holds out against transience is memoria.

Echoing modern psychology’s discovery that memory is the crucible of the self, he adds:

Memoria is always quietly at work, gathering and interweaving experience. Memoria is the place where our vanished lives secretly gather. For nothing that happens to us is ever finally lost or forgotten. In a strange way, everything that happens to us remains somehow still alive within us.
It is crucial to understand that experience itself is not merely an empirical process of appropriating or digesting blocks of life. Experience is rather a journey of transfiguration. Both that which is lived and the one who lives it are transfigured. Experience is not about the consumption of life, rather it is about the interflow of creation into the self and of the self into creation. This brings about subtle and consistently new configurations in both. That is the activity of growth and creativity.
Viewed against this perspective, the concealed nature of memoria is easier to understand. Memoria is the harvester and harvest of transfigured experience. Deep in the silent layers of selfhood, the coagulations of memoria are at work. It is because of this subtle integration of self and life that there is the possibility of any continuity in experience.

“All great truths are obvious truths,” Aldoux Huxley wrote“but not all obvious truths are great truths.” Perhaps it is an obvious truth, but it is also a great truth that years after his sudden and untimely death, O’Donohue lives on in our collective memoria through his transcendent writings, which continue to offer a consecrating lens on the transience we call life.

Complement Four Elements with O’Donohue on beauty and desirethe essence of true friendship, and how our restlessness fuels our creativity, then revisit Annie Dillard on what a stunt pilot knows about impermanence and the meaning of life and this uncommonly beautiful and subtle Japanese pop-up book about transience and the cycle of life 

The Strangest Things Librarians Have Found In Returned Books

“Inspired by [Claire Fuller’s] Swimming Lessons, we went to the experts in unexpected ephemera and well-loved books – librarians – and asked them to tell us the most interesting thing they’d found in a library book. Their answers delighted, disgusted, and exceeded our wildest expectations. It was hard to pick our favorites, but here they are.”