“There is a wondrous music of the spheres which wills to be heard and which a few of our deepest spirits will hear.”—Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West
If they’re covering this stuff in school somewhere I am totally unaware of it. But I doubt they are.
That’s because it’s unteachable, at least in a school environment.
Last time I attended I asked one of my Liberal Arts professors what he thought of Oswald Spengler, which I was only beginning to delve into. He responded dismissively. “Dated,” he said. That was nearly thirty years ago now, and I dropped out again after a few short months.
I suppose it was a matter of their path, the one most taken, or my own. My own led here, the Omphalos Cafe, wherever that is.
Call it a specifically Western Music of the Spheres.
That’s what we do here at the Cafe, we listen to Music.
“I see world-history as a picture of endless formations and transformations, of the marvellous waxing and waning of organic forms.”—Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West
Oswald Spengler, using the works of Goethe and Nietzsche as fertile soil, got the ball rolling.
Others, working in different fields, largely isolated from one another, were hearing the tune as well.
Elie Faure, tracing art’s meandering mosaic through the ages:
“History, religion, civilization, the conquest of the universe by man, his pathetic creation of God, all this is nothing but poetry—….”—Elie Faure, The Spirit Of The Forms
James Joyce, who recounted his personal voyage of discovery through A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, would add his own symphonic arrangement of the Music in Finnegans Wake.
Ulysses, that much misunderstood and actually easier to read classic than the vast majority of literary types would have you believe, is the remarkable story of not one individual tapping into the Music, but three! Thankfully, bridging the chasm of isolation awareness of the Music can open up, they find and then draw strength from each other. A new world is born.
Listen to the plodding, prosaic Bloom as he muses on the Music:
“Cityful passing away, other cityful coming, passing away too: other coming along, passing on.”—Leopold Bloom, from James Joyce’s Ulysses
And then the poetic, shaman/artist Joyce alter ego Stephen Dedalus as he realizes he too can be a composer of symphonies:
“Florry Christ, Stephen Christ, Zoe Christ, Bloom Christ, Kitty Christ, Lynch Christ, it’s up to you to sense that cosmic force…. Be on the side of angels. Be a prism. You have that something within, the higher self. You can rub shoulders with a Jesus, a Gautama, an Ingersoll.”—drunken epiphany of Stephen Dedalus, from the brothel scene of James Joyce’s Ulysses
Sorry ladies, I don’t have a quote of Molly’s handy, but her entire soliloquy ending the book is Music to the inner ear.
Hermann Hess felt it and gave voice to it too:
“Similarly, the symbols and formulas of the Glass Bead Game combined structurally, musically, and philosophically within the framework of a universal language, were nourished by all the sciences and arts, and strove in play to achieve perfection, pure being, the fullness of reality. Thus ‘realizing’ was a favorite expression among the players. They considered their Games a path from Becoming to Being, from potentiality to reality.”—Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi, or The Glass Bead Game
This is getting long.
Connections. Shifting forms. Life!
Listen to Goethe, so prescient, almost two hundred years ago:
“I am more convinced that poetry is the universal possession of mankind, revealing itself everywhere, and at all times, in hundreds and hundreds of men…. National literature is now rather an unmeaning term: the epoch of World literature is at hand and everyone must strive to hasten its approach.” Goethe to Eckermann, from Sonu Shamdasani’s, C.G. Jung, A Biography in Books
And one last carrier of the torch, Joseph Campbell.
“Looking back today over the twelve delightful years that I spent on this richly rewarding enterprise, I find that its main result for me has been its confirmation of a thought I have long and faithfully entertained: of the unity of the race of man, not only in its biology but also in its spiritual history, which has everywhere unfolded in the manner of a single symphony, with its themes announced, developed, amplified and turned about, distorted, reasserted, and, today, in a grand fortissimo of all sections sounding together, irresistibly advancing to some kind of mighty climax, out of which the next great movement will emerge.”—Joseph Campbell, on completion of his Masks Of God series
It’s all the same message. Call it Music of the Spheres or anything you like for that matter, it’s where we’re going if we’re going anywhere worth going.
If you’ve made it this far I thank you for reading and spending time here at the Omphalos Cafe. A little phrase I use occasionally only half jokingly is: “Thank you for being you!”
Whether we realize it or not, we are all in this thing together.
Life is ALL there is….
There’s music in that simple phrase…
“The last time I saw him I asked him if he still believed—as he had once written—‘that we are at this moment participating in one of the very greatest leaps of the human spirit to a knowledge not only of outside nature but also of our own deep inward mystery.’
He thought a minute and answered, ‘The greatest ever.’”—Bill Moyers, introduction to his conversations with Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth