Those are the words which confronted Hermann Hesse’s fictional self Harry Haller while strolling the dark medieval streets of a typical northern German town in his 1927 masterpiece, Steppenwolf.
They shimmered and danced above a doorway Haller had passed and overlooked a hundred times before. However, it probably wasn’t until he had reached the end of his long solitary road and begun seriously contemplating suicide that he became eligible for entry to the Magic Theatre, which, as was written in faintly flashing lights, was ‘not for everybody.’
This image of a forgotten, privileged yet neglected doorway was playing in my mind when I first contemplated creating this place I call the Omphalos Cafe. I had embarked years before on my own journey, dropping out of school and resolving to read only what I wanted to read, only what fired and inspired me. As I soon discovered, more and more that led away from the conventional world into isolation, but Hesse and countless others were urging me forward and bidding me ‘have faith.’
This morning my source for morning news, CBC.ca, carried an excerpt from an interview with Physicist and cosmologist Marcelo Gleiser where he described a world and indeed galaxy view, naturally in a much more reasoned and intelligent manner, which accorded (mostly) with mine. He described the unimaginable immensity of space and then referred to a thing called LUCA—the bacterium from four billion years ago which was our Last Universal Common Ancestor.
Life is One! Or as I repeatedly put it, Life is ALL there is.
Anyway, this Gleiser fella is doing his part in urging us humans to think of this incredible vastness and then picture ourselves as privileged to be the mind of it all, the conscious awareness of all Life.
Where I differ I suppose is in the fact that educated folk delude themselves into thinking that if only everyone on planet earth could become as educated as themselves the world would be a better place. Sheer delusion, and a different sort of madness than the one I’m alluding to in the title of this post.
No. It’s the artists, the Madmen, who will give voice and significant, inspiring and energizing form to the Wonder and Joy that should underly our existence.
It is for those Mad people that I continue with the Cafe. For those courageous souls who see a better world, if only in their imaginations, and more importantly, are determined against all the odds and ‘advice’ of their elders to forge ahead and be a part of that creative process.