Sheltering snowflakes

“As an adjunct professor at a private university, I protect students from the reality of my own precarity and of theirs. I protect the illusion that institutional education is still or ever was in its majority a liberatory experience and a sustainable one. I falsely present myself as a ‘sustained’ being. There are strong reasons for doubt and disbelief—and I cover up that doubt hourly; I flout a confidence which I wrench forth from the air alone, and contrary to all counterindications.” – Emily Abendroth, “It Looked Like What You Needed And Then It Needled You”

Most of the atoms are still around

“Of all the many places celebrated in poetry since ancient times, most have vanished. Mountains have crumbled, rivers taken new courses, and roads new routes. Stones have been buried and hidden in the earth, and old trees have given way to saplings. Time passes and the world changes.” – Matsuo Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (trans. Chilcott)

Roads to travel

“Mythology—and therefore civilization—is a poetic, supernormal image, conceived, like all poetry, in depth, but susceptible of interpretation on various levels. The shallowest minds see in it the local scenery; the deepest, the foreground of the void; and between are all the stages of the Way from the ethnic to the elementary idea, the local to the universal being, which is Everyman, as he both knows and is afraid to know. For the human mind in its polarity of the male and female modes of experience, in its passages from infancy to adulthood and old age, in its toughness and tenderness, and in its continuing dialogue with the world, is the ultimate mythogenetic zone—the creator and destroyer, the slave and yet the master, of all the gods.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology

Bliss of ignorance, folly of man

“A woman’s life is quite different from a man’s. God has ordered it so. A man is the same from the time of his circumcision to the time of his withering. He is the same before he has sought out a woman for the first time, and afterwards. But the day when a woman enjoys her first love cuts her in two. She becomes another woman on that day. The man is the same after his first love as he was before. The woman is from the day of her first love another. That continues so all through life. The man spends a night by a woman and goes away. His life and body are always the same. The woman conceives. As a mother she is another person than the woman without child. She carries the print of the night nine months long in her body. Something grows. Something grows into her life that never again departs from it. She is a mother. She is and remains a mother even though her child die, though all her children die. For at one time she carried the child under her heart. And it does not go out of her heart ever again. Not even when it is dead. And this the man does not know; he knows nothing.” – Unidentified Abyssinian woman (quoted by Carl Kerényi in “Kore”)

 

Then what happened

“There can be no doubt that in the very earliest ages of human history the magical force and wonder of the female was no less a marvel than the universe itself; and this gave to woman a prodigious power, which it has been one of the chief concerns of the masculine part of the population to break, control, and employ to its own ends.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology

Or it’s no society

“A society depends for its existence on the presence in the minds of its members of a certain system of sentiments by which the conduct of the individual is regulated in conformity with the needs of the society . . . the sentiments in question are not innate but are developed in the individual by the action of the society upon him.” – A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, The Andaman Islanders

Eyes tight shut

“Why should it be that whenever men have looked for something solid on which to found their lives, they have chosen not the facts in which the world abounds, but the myths of an immemorial imagination—preferring even to make life a hell for themselves and their neighbors, in the name of some violent god, to accepting gracefully the bounty the world affords?” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology

Onward, Buddhist soldiers

“No Buddhist has ever burnt his neighbour’s body for the sake of his (non-existent) soul, nor has there been a ‘Buddhist’, still less that blasphemous phrase, a ‘holy’ Buddhist, war. It has always taught that truth is either relative (all that we know), or absolute (which we cannot know).” – Christmas Humphreys, Zen Buddhism

We know their names

“And if there shall ever arise a nation whose people have forgotten poetry or whose poets have forgotten the people, though they send their ships round Taprobane and their armies across the hills of Hindustan, though their city be greater than Babylon of old, though they mine a league into the earth or mount to the stars on wings—what of them? They will be but a dark patch upon the world.” – James Elroy Flecker, Hassan: The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and How he Came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand

Rolling stones uphill

“Knowledge is always an attempt. Every fact was established by an argument—by observation and interpretation—and is susceptible to being overturned by a different one. A fact, you might say, is nothing more than a frozen argument, the place where a given line of investigation has come temporarily to rest. Sometimes those arguments are scientific papers. Sometimes they are news reports, which are arguments with everything except the conclusions left out (the legwork, the notes, the triangulation of sources—the research and the reasoning). And sometimes they are essays. When it comes to essays, though, we don’t refer to those conclusions as facts. We refer to them as wisdom, or ideas. And yes, they are often openly impressionistic and provisional, colored by feeling, memory, and mood. But the essay draws its strength not from separating reason and imagination but from putting them in conversation. A good essay moves fluidly between thought and feeling. It subjects the personal to the rigors of the intellect and the discipline of external reality.” – William Deresiewicz, “In Defense of Facts”

Let me tell you about . . .

“As a species, we repeatedly fail to acknowledge the equal and inherent right of all other species to exist, a right implicit in existence itself and in no way subordinate to our own. We ignore, as if instinctively, nature’s right to itself—its autonomy, if you like. No matter how we feel or act as individuals, what matters when it comes to saving nature is how we feel and act as a species. The news on that score is very grim.” – Verlyn Klinkenborg, “What’s Happening to the Bees and Butterflies?”

Nanny’s not gonna give you that

“The decisive distinguishing feature of Western philosophical or metaphysical spirituality is that it does not regard the truth as something to which the subject has access by right, universally, or simply by virtue of the kind of cognitive being that the human subject is. Rather, it views the truth as something to which the subject may accede only through some act of inner self-transformation: some act of attending to the self with a view to determining its present incapacity, thence to transform it into the kind of self that is spiritually qualified to accede to a truth that is by definition not open to the unqualified subject.” – Ian Hunter, “Spirituality and Philosophy in Post-Structuralist Theory”

Sing joy spring, etc.

“No tribal rite has yet been recorded which attempts to keep winter from descending; on the contrary: the rites all prepare the community to endure, together with the rest of nature, the season of the terrible cold. And in the spring, the rites do not seek to compel nature to pour forth immediately corn, beans, and squash for the lean community; on the contrary: the rites dedicate the whole people to the work of nature’s season.” – Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces