Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reality: Positively Mysterious

A new year has begun with new challenges and new opportunities. I was reminded earlier this week of something that is easy to forget, namely the positive nature of reality. Since I am writing about reality, I don't mind mentioning that at least for now I am not going to pressure myself to write, primarily because I'm not that good at it, meaning the product of my effort is often not worth my effort. This is okay. I do not write nor do I ever intend to write for a living, or even for money. We'll see what that means both here and elsewhere. My genre remains uncreative non-fiction.

I read a short story today in the current issue of Commentary by Joseph Epstein, "Remittance Man." The story is about a not overly ambitious writer, but one whose talent is nonetheless not up to his ambition. In the story, while at his father's funeral the writer, Lenny, comes "to understand that he is one of life’s spectators, with a seat on the sidelines watching other people do their dance. He lives, as he has always lived, in his mind, in his imagination." This brings me back to the positivity of reality, which can only be understood through experience. In The Religious Sense, Msgr. Giussani wrote about the necessity of being involved with life in order to understand life, to grasp reality. Involvement with life inevitably brings about problems, difficulties, issues, situations, etc. "But," Giussani insisted, "a problem is nothing other than the dynamic expression of a reaction in the face of these encounters." This is not to say about life what someone once said about history, that it is "one damn thing after another." Rather, all of our experience is an opportunity to experience the positivity, the purposeful nature, of reality, especially as it pertains to me, in a specific and highly personal way.

It is easy to get syrupy and sentimental about such observations. In order to avoid this I turn to an excerpt of a poem by Czesław Miłosz, which I came across reading Gustaw Herling:

       "If I had to tell what the world is for me
       I would take a hamster or a hedgehog or a mole
       and place him in a theater seat one evening
       and, bringing my ear close to his humid snout,
       would listen to what he says about the spotlights,
       sounds of music, and movements of the dance."

In other words, I think the positivity of reality arises, at least partly, from the mystery it often veils. Once in awhile there is an unveiling (an epiphany, or apocalypse). In my experience, such moments pass quickly before slipping away again. Lest I slip from engagement back into merely watching, plus never being able to resist alluding, even if obliquely, to Von Balthasar, I will appeal to the theo-drama of reality via Shakespeare's As You Like It (Act II Scene 7), or, more honestly, via Rush's song "Limelight": "All the world's indeed a stage..."


  1. I do not think that you ought to pressure yourself to write however at the same time I do hope that you continue into this new year. I enjoy reading and reflecting on these posts.

  2. I love this post Scott- one of your best IMHO.
    Raw and full of life and integrity - I see what you bring here as not passive but part of experience of the revelatory mystery and the infinite horizon against which God is ever present. Holy Ground !
    Blessings for 2012.

  3. Thanks guys. I plan to keep blogging, though the everyday thing may or may not happen. It's funny how obsessive I get about cetain things, like having to post every day and setting my standard high (keep in mind it is my standard). Rather than lower my standard, I will likely blog less frequently.


God's love for us is tireless

Readings: Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34 No doubt you've heard the saying, "There's no rest for the wicked...