“For, as in the visible world of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, so also in the visionary world of the gods: there has been a history, an evolution, a series of mutations, governed by laws; and to show forth such laws is the proper aim of science.”—Joseph Campbell, The Masks Of God: Primitive Mythology
“The Holy Spirit does not descend from God to animate the heart of man; the Holy Spirit arises from man to animate the heart of God.”— Elie Faure, The Dance Over Fire And Water
Obscure, top shelf stuff. I love it!
The kind of thing we talk about, Xenon and I, down at the Omphalos Cafe. No doubt why there’s rarely anyone else in the place. Ok, now and then someone stumbles in, with that searching, vaguely lost look in their eye. They may even pay the Cafe a few visits, earn a smile and greeting from Xenon, maybe even glance through a few books in the back room. But inevitably they disappear again. Too dull I suppose. Not enough outwardly happening.
I mean, “…so also in the visionary world of gods: there has been a history, a mutation….” Not exactly a conversation starter.
I imagine myself next week sitting on a Carnival Dream deck chair after my fourth buffet meal of the day. Turning to the fella next to me I venture: “Wow, how ’bout that Elie Faure, turning everything we’ve been taught as decent God fearing Christians on its ear! Just think: the Holy Spirit arising from you and me to animate the heart of God and not the other way around!” He looks at me blankly for a moment and then turns to the lady lounging next to him: “Honey, what’s say we check out the Chinese buffet this time?” She replies: “I’m stuffed to the gizzies, Petunia Buns,…. Count me in!” And they heave themselves to their feet and hurry off.
Alright, that wasn’t fair. But I’m having trouble here. Words don’t suffice.
Sometimes I think an early proficiency with words, or any craft for that matter, is precisely what hinders a soul from full and unfettered efflorescence into Artistry. Show a little talent early on and one is immediately urged to go to market! The result is hundreds of thousands of ‘artists’, but very few Artists. There is no time for maturity of soul and vision in the headlong rush to produce.
I’ve never enjoyed a fluency of word. I remain an execrable speller and my wife is always correcting my pronunciation. Part of that is growing up in Quebec, although my mother tongue is English through and through, but most of it is reading stupendous amounts in the quiet solitude of a room, library, restaurant, bar, or the Cafe. Reading the words is not hearing or speaking them.
Back to the quotes, and change.
Change is probably the most difficult concept—or reality—to grasp for us idea-minded moderns. Ideas are static, even the ‘idea’ of change is static. Once we and our world image is fixed in adulthood change comes dearly. It can be terrifying, paralyzing. We throw up all manner of excuse, all manner of defence, against growth, against a challenge to a comforting, unchanging God.
What are the quotes alluding to if not the ongoing, vitally playful, dynamically evolving interaction between humankind and the gods we create from the deepest most obscure levels of the unconscious? It’s a sort of chicken and egg thing, this God and humankind. What came first? What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Wonderful, precious, stunned silence….
Then epiphanic lightening flash!
Ok, not likely.
I’m not quitting my day job yet.