Part of becoming mature lies in the realization that we do not know ourselves as well as we thought we did, that we are not transparent to ourselves and that we act motivated by certain forces, desires, emotions, and needs we have no control or knowledge of. Part of becoming mature consists in trying to befriend and bring light to this shadow life, while knowing that life will end before this endeavor does.
Truths are always hard, which we don’t want to hear, because they disturb our sense of complacency and comfort, they shatter our self-image and hold on the world. If we are not willing to accept and reconstruct ourselves accordingly we are doomed to unhappiness and a mediocre life. We are doomed to repeat the same errors again and again and to stay caught in the same cycles of addiction and thought. Facing the truth takes courage, confidence, humility, and some hardness towards ourselves. Without that we will perish not having achieved our full potential.
Only the weak person wants to bind others in contracts of blackmail and fear. These contracts come in many forms; one of them is love and kindness.
Faith is not a belief in a fixed state or ideal; it is an open ended question that transforms the believer through the grace of love. Faith attains no finalities nor does it attach itself to any absolute security; it is a state of becoming; its altar is the world; its medium is love.
What is an ideology?—it is a thing propelled by an absolute faith in its own prerogatives; in other words, its blind spot forbids it from seeing itself for what it is, and this is essential for it to go on preaching its faith.
Contemplation has always had to battle against the values of the market, but in no age did these values reign absolute as they do today. They are upheld religiously — and therefore, invisibly — and have sneaked in to transform every institution and discipline, including that of philosophy, from the ground up. In addition to having made the life of man uninteresting and small, they have also made him increasingly stupid. Soon he will have to relearn his most basic skills — seeing, hearing, reading, thinking. They never allow him a moment’s rest as he is constantly pushed to perform and produce. They are the ultimate tyranny, seen by none, upheld by all.
When you remember, which comes first, the image or the feeling? I venture to say that it is the feeling that calls out the image and frames it, giving it its depth, hue and texture — it sears it, as though in fog. Many feelings remain after being uncoupled from their original images, and so they create images of their own. This is well known to all poets and artists.
What I find deeply disconcerting about science is its will to reduce everything it touches into the realm of knowledge — i.e. utilitarian — thus dispelling existence of every shade of mystery. In such an atmosphere that is deeply antagonistic to poetry I find myself suffocating and unable to tolerate life. The good news is that this endeavour of science is futile, in that it is impossible to reduce everything into the realm of knowledge; the unknown remains, and the shade of mystery cannot be dispelled; poetry cannot be vanquished. The bad news is that science may well destroy life and the world before coming to this conclusion and admitting its childish aspirations. The link between poetry, mystery, and ecology is unmistakable. It is what we hope will one day bring science to its senses, making it aware of its own limitations. Hopefully that day won’t be too long in the future.
We all coexist with the idea that the people we love might disappear at any moment, though this idea, in the every day life, only occupies the fringes of our minds. But when someone you love has cancer, the idea becomes central, and it moves to occupy the entire space. Managing your emotions while going through this is one of the hardest things a human being has to do.
The years move on, and the things which seemed so important become trivial; time and loss have a way of distilling life to its essence. The years move on, what remains now are the simple things that were there all along, waiting in the quiet. The years move on, and we start making friends with our own disappearance; how well can we dance the dance before saying goodbye?
Things, in the end, will not be alright, and it is unrealistic to expect them to be so. Life will falter, sickness will creep in, relationships you value will be torn, friends and lovers will one day be strange as ghosts, everything will change, nothing you love will remain the same, and, in the end, sooner or later, you yourself will disappear without ever having felt like you have had enough, or that you have fulfilled all your dreams, or resolved the puzzle of life. If you can truly face this fact, deeply, without closing your heart, you will attain internal peace, and will be able to dance in the rain for a little while. You will give all you can give, and you will know the gratitude of love.
All poets are fools; they love the world more than it deserves to be loved, and when it hurts them they bless it. All poets are fools; they inscribe their holy verse in a woman’s body, and turn her into mist and light. All poets are fools; they are meant to suffer, and enter a place of light. All poets are fools, they bless what hurts them, and love with a passion that rivals the sun. All poets are fools; blessed are the poets.
Whereas in the past greatness was identified with asceticism and virtue, an ability to resist and will, in our days the ideal has shifted towards a life of entertainment, consumption, and laisser-allez, one identified cynicism and vice. What was admired was the man who was able to raise himself above himself, to overcome and control himself, whereas now, a voice hums in his ear, telling him to suckle all he can from the bosom of this moment, for that is all he can ever hope to have.
In a dictatorship or a totalitarian regime the election is only formal, and serves the purpose of giving popular legitimacy to the system in place without allowing any fundamental change to the policies and forces of governance. A people’s belief in the election would actually hinder any real change, and only preserve the status quo and power balance of the system. In Lebanon, any election will be ineffectual in bringing any real change, since the country is governed by an oligarchy of sects, and the actual power is concentrated not in the parliament and not in the cabinet of ministers but in around six sectarian men, with each having his own external alliances and his own internal agenda. The oligarchy is as powerful as the central government is weak and ineffectual. The current political system incubates corruption as a way to survive and to proliferate itself. The current political system recognizes no citizenship and no sovereign individuals, but only subjects who must be used as fuel for war among themselves. In Lebanon there are no left and right parties, but only a form of tribalism that calls itself a democracy. So long as people believe in the illusion and do not stand in solidarity with each other around a shared ideal, change will be impossible.
People are avoidant by nature; they dislike taking responsibility for their lives and actions. And because they don’t take charge, they feel, as a result, and subconsciously, that their lives are not going the way they want. This breeds inner pestilence and it becomes easy to get angry over trivial things. The energy resulting from a feeling of dissatisfaction and lack of control needs continual discharge, so things are invented over which to get angry, and life in certain areas grows dark and poisonous. Many people, philosophies, religions, epochs, curse existence as a result of this. Many people need hate and anger to survive.
Words, they are the geological forces of the soul, pushing against the toughest and most deeply imbedded boundaries and structures, with great patience eroding, stretching, pulling, transforming, and giving us the tools to control ourselves, to rise above ourselves and overcome ourselves, and shape our own destinies.
Poets love intensely because they invent their love long before they live it. Their lover is an active fire that brews in the marrow of their soul. Their carnality is an animal ferocity softened, spiritualized and intensified by their imagination and longing. Poets are the animals of the soul.
What is a poet?—a poem that plays hide and seek with itself; a poem that needs long walks in the sun and rain for it to find itself; a poem that takes a great deal of time to decipher the light in its darkness; a poem that is wasteful with much of its life for it to experience a few precious moments; a poem akin to an open wound, aching and pouring. A poet is a man without a face, standing in the crowd, in his heart feeling and recording everything. A poet is a sky buried in a man, filled with endless distances. A poet is a failed attempt. A poet is an unreachable man. A poet is not ink but life made invisible. A poet is no one. A poet is.
A little poetic sensibility is enough for you to know that you do not inhabit the same world as that of men. They pass you by as if they were holograms projected from another dimension, barely aware of their immediate surroundings and the intricacy that holds everything together, sways and moves everything to the same rhythm; they pass you by as if they were humans that never completely materialized, remaining half-ghosts, not really aware of the currents and tides of their own bodies, and how these merge with and echo the infinite beauty and chaos of the world outside. A little poetic sensibility goes a long way. You open your eyes, and realize you’ve been blind. You hear, feel, smell and touch as if for the first time. The world is alive. The world, as it is, is spirit, is art, it is poetry.
To see a World in a Grain of SandWilliam Blake
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.