Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Warm, Lighted Houses on the Top of the Hill


All those who try to go it sole alone,
Too proud to be beholden for relief,
Are absolutely sure to come to grief.
Robert Frost, Excerpt from Haec Fabula Docet.
(or are they?)
Andrea Gerlin, Look who’s talking (or are they?): Shy Finns go cell-phone crazy.
A patient in analysis was in the habit of wandering about in a foreign city on a cold, windy night—observing the warm lighted houses on the top of the hill, longing to be inside them, yet enjoying in some curious way his own solitude. This masochistic enjoyment has a spurious quality to it. If the Indian ascetic wanders off into the forest by himself, he nonetheless soon begins to people his asrama with all the denizens of his imagination. What Indian ascetic is not on the closest terms with a large number of gods and demons; is he not steeped in mythology? The tradition provides the lost ascetic with his hearth, and hence, I believe, the universal tendency for mythology to begin to concern itself with the family life of the gods.
J. Moussaieff Masson, The Psychology of the Ascetic.
It is dozens of years since I . . .
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
. . . attended college.
Charles W. Chesnutt, The House Behind the Cedars.
But I remember . . .
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
My condition at that time was a kind of madness. Amid the ordered peace of . . .
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
. . . the University . . .
Sigmund Freud, An Autobiographical Study.
. . . I lived shyly, in agony, like a ghost; I took no part in the life of the others, rarely forgot myself for an hour at a time.
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
The last term in my last year of college sputtered out in a week-long fusillade of examinations and sentimental alcoholic conferences with professors whom I knew I would not really miss, even as I shook their hands and bought them beers.
Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh: A Novel.
I had been lonely at Harvard. My relationships with others didn't seem to go deep enough to give me the sense that I was making permanent friends and becoming part of a larger community. I was unable to fall in love. I could easily imagine disappearing without leaving any trace in the world. This thought had a curious effect on me: it depressed me and yet the depression itself was so interesting a state for me to be able to feel, that I was nearly elated at experiencing it. But perhaps I am romanticizing my loneliness in retrospect. I know at the time that I just wanted it to end.
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis.
My salvation came from a totally unexpected source, which, at the same time, brought a new element into my life that has affected it to this very day.
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
One autumn evening in 1962 I was walking in a quiet residential neighborhood of Cambridge, looking for the home of a friend. I stopped to ask directions at a house that looked cheerful and bright. The man who opened the door to me asked me in. He called his wife, and the three of us began a lively conversation, lively because both of them seemed to be unaccountably curious about me, where I had come from, what languages I grew up speaking, how I liked studying Sanskrit, . . .
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis.
. . . my sad and cynical major . . .
Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh: A Novel.
. . . where I was going that night, and whom I was going to meet and why. Both the man and his wife, it turned out, were psychoanalysts, the first I had ever met. I immediately assumed that their intense human curiosity must be a by-product of psychoanalysis, and I was fascinated. "What a wonderful profession," I thought, "that encourages such kindly intimacy." When I told them what I was thinking, and how badly I longed for just such conversations, they suggested I might be interested in therapy.
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis.
Suddenly we found ourselves in the midst of a strange conversation touching on many ominous topics.
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
Both the man and his wife . . .
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis.
. . . spoke about the spirit of Europe and the signs of the times. Everywhere, . . .
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
. . . the man said, . . .
Jack London, The One Thousand Dozen.
. . . we could observe the reign of the herd instinct, nowhere freedom and love. All this false communion—from the fraternities to the choral societies and the nations themselves—was an inevitable development, was a community born of fear and dread, out of embarrassment, but inwardly rotten, outworn, close to collapsing.
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
The sun was setting, we could see the whole city below us, and it was one of those quiet moments when petty concerns seem to melt away.
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis.
From this day on I went in and out of the house like a son or brother—but also as someone in love. As soon as I opened the gate, as soon as I caught sight of the tall trees in the garden, I felt happy and rich. Outside was reality: streets and houses, people and institutions, libraries and lecture halls— here inside was love; here lived the legend and the dream. And yet we lived in no way cut off from the outside world; in our thoughts and conversations we often lived in the midst of it, only on an entirely different plane.
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
Not all the sufferings and miseries of this earth can affect that happiness which lies concealed deep within the heart like a pearl in an oyster, and even in my heaviest hours I have known this blissful pearl in my soul.
Cosima Wagner's Diaries (Tuesday, January 5, 1869).
Hermann Hesse’s . . .
J. Moussaieff Masson, My Father’s Guru.
. . . Demian is not actually a physical being, since he is never separated from Sinclair, the character who narrates the book. In fact, Demian is Sinclair himself, his deepest self, a kind of archetypal hero who exists in the depths of all of us. In a word, Demian is the essential Self which remains unchanging and untouched, and through him the book attempts to give instruction concerning the magical essence of existence. Demian provides the young boy Sinclair with a redeeming awareness of the millennial being which exists within him so that he can overcome chaos and danger, especially during the years of adolescence.
Miguel Serrano, Jung & Hesse: A Record of Two Friendships.

5 comments:

Queen said...

well thats good to know you have an imagenary friend and i like your sense of humor very funny.

ashodpuck said...

saludos from chile... gracias por visitar mi blog!!! desde el centro mismo de Stgo, Ashod Puck

gawblimeyman said...

I want to read your blog more, but it's too heavy. By that I mean:
I am skiving at work, I want to be entertaining and humoured. I don't want to tax my brain and think, don't want to get those gogs in my head whirring, and drain me! I'm in just to lazy a mood to do that!
I'll look back some other time!

gawblimeyman said...

I meant COGS in my head! What's a gog????
Now I'm humouring myself..just as well I didn't say pleasuring myself or I'd be arrested!

Shiv said...

Gary, drop by my blog for a surprise :)

http://www.shivreddy.com

PS: I assumed you would give me permission; you seemed that way. Thank you and keep writing, I will return often to read.

In opening, let me first thank my friend, gary freedman, for doing me the honor of dedicating to me this wonderful, eloquent post. Can't say enough how much I appreciate it.

"I could easily imagine disappearing without leaving any trace in the world."

Gary, you can rest assured that is not going to happen. I sense a hidden literary masterpeice incarcerated within the confines of your imagination, a billowing zeppelin, that you only have to put pen to paper, to perforate your mind's reservoir ever so slightly and allow thoughts to gush forth. Perhaps it will be ahead of our time and take eons to catch on, but your unique situation is a gift, if you choose to see it that way, a situation that allows you to look at the universe in a way that can only inspire others, for daring to be so different. Only in your world can melancholy solitude bring remarkable calm and bliss, and only in your world can pain or suffering bring cheer, although perhaps not to the person laboring them, but to the observer who seeks to learn from the experience.

I was delighted to see you were a student of Sanksrit, one of the many most complex languages and scripts, to have emerged from the Indian subcontinent. I speak Hindi, a relatively contemporary language which derived from the Devnagari script and is very similar, albiet much more colloquial than Sanskrit, that in fact it aspects of its current form must have evolved substainally from the older language. Every letter in these scripts is a bona fide exercise in an evocative art form, which when strung together to form words, capture the quintessence of the emotion they seek to express in a way very few languages can hope to achieve. But that might be just me.

Note to self: Must grab ahold of Hesse’s Demian; but as you would say, and I twist your words a bit, outside is reality, here sitting at my desk reading your post lives a dream, to be able to rejoice in the simple pleasures of life and indulge in prose and poetry, unfortunately I have limited time.

With your permission, I will reproduce this post on my blog. I must confess that the thought of similarly writing and dedicating a post to you in grateful recompense crossed my mind, but I had to dismiss the incubational sense before it fomented to a more advanced notion for fear I will not be able to match the grandeur of your words.