“What distinguishes the men I have in mind is that they did not impose their authority on man; on the contrary, they sought to destroy authority. Their aim and purpose was to open up life, to make man hungry for life, to exult life—and to refer all questions back to life.”—Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
Cannot recall whether or not I’ve already used the above quote. I could go back and check, but that’s not the way things get done around here, especially when it’s minutes before I need head off to pick up the spawn.
“…And to refer all questions back to life”: isn’t that tantamount to saying Life is ALL there is?
You see the thing is, touch the heart of the matter, attain to the hub—not a conception of the hub but the genuine per-verbal experience of it—and words or meanings or definitions no longer obtain. All of that twaddle is washed away, literature, philosophy, whatever rational avenue you would mistakenly and misguidedly employ dissolves—and for want of a better term, because terms themselves no longer matter—you KNOW.
Life is to be CELEBRATED. It is ALL we have.
But we put it off in order to learn. In order to “earn a living” we need first attain some sort of skill or aptitude our society deems worthy and perhaps beneficial to the collective. No matter if society itself has lost it’s center or become unbalanced and dissociated from Life, we need serve it to a certain extent lest we are left behind, even discarded.
The pressure to knuckle under mounts through our teens. “Do well in school or else!” is society’s self-perpetuating mantra. Increasingly, a stark irrevocable-seeming decision lies ahead like a fork in the road, one pathway leading upwards towards a sort of light suburban airiness, the other downward, dark and lean and spare of the material benefits society has to offer. Some of our children, faced with the fork in the road, are born for this knuckling under business; some achieve it with great strain; and some never get the hang of it at all.
Now, more than ever, we have need of this latter group. The under appreciated, often enough stifled and frustrated—even malcontented—would-be celebrants. As Miller says, the exulters of Life.
We need take back learning from society and its authorized custodians. We need pull down the “authorities” who serve and are rewarded by society. We need seek out and celebrate those who unflinchingly serve Life.
“All these statements defy being fitted into the frame of logical reasonableness. To make them intelligible satori is needed.”—D.T. Suzuki, Living By Zen
Sorry, couldn’t help it. Reread what I wrote and said to myself: “but they’re just words!” And not very good words at that.
No matter, let ’em stand.
Words are nothing… The Life behind them everything!