Saturday, May 21st, 2011
All joking aside, the final word on the recent prophecies of tribulation comes (by way of the Slacktivist) from my ranine namesake, prophet Jeremiah:
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.
Update: mediævalists.net, relieved that the world has not ended, is linking some articles on mediæval references to rapture and tribulation. First in the series is Francis Gumerlock's 2002 essay on The History of Brother Dolcino (pdf), an early instance of pretribulationism.
Thursday, May 5th, 2011
I've been rereading Julian Jaynes' The Birth of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind -- a book which I read shortly before I started blogging about reading and which has pretty strongly influenced my ways of thinking -- and thinking there is a lot I want to write about it; but nothing is coming together yet when I sit down to write about it. Instead I want to quote a passage from another book, from William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience, a passage which surprised me when I happened across it this afternoon.
I was raised a Quaker but never really learned much about George Fox. I guess to the extent that I have any image of him, it is as an ethereal, meditative pacifist, a thoughtful, reflective man. Below the fold, James quotes a passage from Fox' journals which shows him in full-on bicameral, hallucinatory prophet mode. Check it out.
Even more perhaps than other kinds of genius, religious leaders have been subject to abnormal psychical visitations. Invariably they have been creatures of exalted emotional sensibility. Often they have led a discordant inner life, and had melancholy during a part of their career. They have known no measure, been liable to obsessions and fixed ideas; and frequently they have fallen into trances, heard voices, seen visions, and presented all sorts of peculiarities which are ordinarily classed as pathological. Often, moreover, these pathological features in their career have helped to give them their religious authority and influence.
If you ask for a concrete example, there can be no better one than is furnished by the person of George Fox. The Quaker religion which he founded is something which it is impossible to overpraise. In a day of shams, it was a religion of veracity rooted in spiritual inwardness, and a return to something more like the original gospel truth than men had ever known in England. So far as our Christian sects today are evolving into liberality, they are simply reverting in essence to the position which Fox and the early Quakers so long ago assumed. No one can pretend for a moment that in point of spiritual sagacity and capacity, Fox's mind was unsound. Everyone who confronted him personally, from Oliver Cromwell down to county magistrates and jailers, seems to have acknowledged his superior power. Yet from the point of view of his nervous constitution, Fox was a psychopath or détraqué of the deepest dye. His Journal abounds in entries of this sort: --
"As I was walking with several friends, I lifted up my head and saw three steeple-house spires, and they struck at my life. I asked them what place that was? They said, Lichfield. Immediately the word of the Lord came to me, that I must go thither. Being come to the house we were going to, I wished the friends to walk into the house, saying nothing to them of whither I was to go. As soon as they were gone I stept away, and went by my eye over hedge and ditch till I came within a mile of Lichfield where, in a great field, shepherds were keeping their sheep. Then was I commanded by the Lord to pull off my shoes. I stood still, for it was winter: but the word of the Lord was like a fire in me. So I put off my shoes and left them with the shepherds; and the poor shepherds trembled, and were astonished. Then I walked on about a mile, and as soon as I was got within the city, the word of the Lord came to me again, saying: Cry, 'Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!' So I went up and down the streets, crying with a loud voice, Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield! It being market day, I went into the market-place, and to and fro in the several parts of it, and made stands, crying as before, Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield! And no one laid hands on me. As I went thus crying through the streets, there seemed to me to be a channel of blood running down the streets, and the market-place appeared like a pool of blood. When I had declared what was upon me, and felt myself clear, I went out of the town in peace; and returning to the shepherds gave them some money, and took my shoes of them again. But the fire of the Lord was so on my feet, and all over me, that I did not matter to put on my shoes again, and was at a stand whether I should or no, till I felt freedom from the Lord so to do: then, after I had washed my feet, I put on my shoes again.
After this a deep consideration came upon me, for what reason I should be sent to cry against that city, and call it The bloody city! For though the parliament had the minister one while, and the king another, and much blood had been shed in the town during the wars between them, yet there was no more than had befallen many other places. But afterwards I came to understand, that in the Emperor Diocletian's time a thousand Christians were martyr'd in Lichfield. So I was to go, without my shoes, through the channel of their blood, and into the pool of their blood in the market-place, that I might raise up the memorial of the blood of those martyrs, which had been shed above a thousand years before, and lay cold in their streets. So the sense of this blood was upon me, and I obeyed the word of the Lord."
Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
I'm feeling on a bit of a roll with reading and translating the prologue to Altazor. Here is another section, in which Huidobro/Altazor lays out the manifesto of the poem. There is some tricky pronoun-switching here; but I think the way I'm reading it makes sense.
Oh: how beautiful... how beautiful.
I see the mountains, the rivers, the jungles, the sea, the ships, the flowers, the seashells.
I see the night and the day, the axis where they converge.
Oh, oh,-- I am Altazor, great poet, without a horse who eats birdseed, nor who warms his throat in the moonlight; with my little parachute, like a parasol above the planets.
From each drop of sweat on my forehead are born stars; I will leave you the task of baptizing them, like so many bottles of wine.
I see it all, my brain was forged in tongues of prophecy.
See the mountain as the breath of God, climbing its swollen thermometer until it touch the feet of my beloved.
Am that one who has seen all things, who knows all the secrets, without being Walt Whitman -- I have never had a white beard, white like lovely nurses, like frozen streams.
That one who hears at night the counterfeiters' hammers, just busy astronomers.
That one who drinks from the warm glass of wisdom after the flood, paying heed to the doves, who knows the path of fatigue, the seething wake behind the ships.
That one who knows the storehouses of memory, of lovely forgotten seasons.
He: he, shepherd of airplanes, who conducts lost nights and masterful winds to the matchless poles.
His moan is like a blinking web of unseen meteors.
The day rises in his heart; he lowers his eyelids to make night, the farmer's respite.
He washes his hands under the gaze of God, he combs his hair like light, like he's harvesting slender raindrops, satisfied.
The screams are more distant now, like a flock across the hills, when the stars are sleeping afer a night of continuous labor.
The beautiful hunter, looking at the heavenly watering-hole where the heartless birds drink.
(The as-yet-nameless stars will make another very satisfying appearance early in Canto I.)
Ah, qué hermoso... qué hermoso.
Veo las montañas, los ríos, las selvas, el mar, los barcos, las flores y los caracoles.
Veo la noche y el día y el eje en que se juntan.
Ah, ah, soy Altazor, el gran poeta, sin caballo que coma alpiste, ni caliente su garganta con claro de luna, sino con mi pequeño paracaídas como un quitasol sobre los planetas.
De cada gota del sudor de mi frente hice nacer astros, que os derea la tarea de bautizar como a botellas de vino.
Lo veo todo, tengo mi cerebro forjado en lenguas de profeta.
La montaña es el suspiro de Dios, ascendiendo en termómetro hinchado hasta tocar los pies de la amada.
Aquél que todo lo ha visto, que conoce todos los secretos sin ser Walt Whitman, pues jamás he tenido una barba blanca como las bellas enfermeras y los arroyos helados.
Aquél que oye durante la noche los martillos de los monederos falsos, que son solamente astrónomos activos.
Aquél que bebe el vaso caliente de la sabiduría después del diluvio obedeciendo a las palomas y que conoce la ruta de la fatiga, la estela hirviente que dejan los barcos.
Aquél que conoce los almacenes de recuerdos y de bellas estaciones olvidadas.
Él, el pastor de aeroplanos, el conductor de las noches extraviadas y de los ponientes amaestrados hacia los polos únicos.
Su queja es semejante a una red parpadeante de aerolitos sin testigo.
El día se levante en su corazón y él baja los parpados para hacer la noche del reposo agricola.
Lava sus manos en la mirada de Dios, y peina su cabellera como la luz y la cosecha de esas flacas espigas de la lluvia satisfecho.
Los gritos se alejan como un rebaño sobre las lomas cuando las estrellas duermen después de una noche de trabajo continuo.
El hermoso cazador frente al bebedero celeste para los pájaros sin corazón.
Saturday, December 6th, 2008
In the interview ..., Sourosh made explicit his alternative belief that the Koran was a "prophetic experience." He told me that the prophet "was at the same time the receiver and the producer of the Koran or, if you will, the subject and the object of the revelation." Soroush said that "when you read the Koran, you have to feel that a human being is speaking to you, i.e. the words, images, rules and regulations and the like all are coming from a human mind." He added, "This mind, of course, is special in the sense that it is imbued with divinity and inspired by God."Souresh's statement makes me (again) very interested in reading the Qu'ran. "Coming from a human mind" is not a sense that I've gotten from reading the Bible, and it has seemed like a shortcoming. Huh, well every year or two I get interested in the Qu'ran, haven't gotten anywhere with it to date; but...
-- Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar, "Who Wrote the Koran?", NY Times Magazine, December 7th, 2008
"In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
- Bismi Allahi alrrahmani
- Alhamdu lillahi rabbi alAAalameena
- Alrrahmani alrraheemi
- Maliki yawmi alddeeni
- Iyyaka naAAbudu wa-iyyaka nastaAAeenu
- Ihdina alssirata almustaqeema
- Sirata allatheena anAAamta
AAalayhim ghayri almaghdoobi AAalayhim wala
Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds;
Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
Master of the Day of Judgment.
Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek.
Show us the straight way,
The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray."
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