We often do things invisible to the eye, and generally this thing we do is called thought, or the act of thinking. Spirit lives there, but we shall not dwell on that topic, lest it move us too far to the outer rim. Certainly criminals live there, do they not, in the outer rim? Just like the hand of Death, whose veins flow with the blood of dead spirits, these same enigmas inhabit our thoughts. (What a wonderful mystery this is!)
A criminal does what he ought to have thought in private. I’ve killed many a child, mother, and father in my private life. Oh, but it was all in good fun, of course. Anyways, I shan’t go to jail for what you cannot see. Well, how about acting? If I had a mind to release some of these discreet passions of mine, or better yet, crude fancies, would it get me into trouble if i cursed you and your life behind a mask? No, no at all, I’d be marveled at like a magician performing his spell. Oh, and what a good time we’d have talking about slicing, dicing, cutting, butchering!
You, my audience, might ask the question, what kind creature is he, this Lucifer? And I would answer, he is what calls himself, a monster, one who is isolated. Very few us do not know the outer rim, where we are free to roam about and slaughter like wolves in the night. But, let us any of us wolves show ourselves in the midst of our sole travels, and we shall be forced to continue our adventures in the penitentiary.
Dear friends, ask yourselves, what brought Shakespeare to conceive of the Tempest? Did it not require a journey to the outer rim, in the same manner criminals must wander to and from the wasteland? Is it not fascinating how a criminal finds redemption in the presence of the very spirit which misguided him? Therefore do we come to the conclusion, in the criminal mind lies the redemptive mind as well, for without action, they live in the spirit unencumbered by morals, which we shall one day come to know as the harbinger of hypocrisy.
A good actor knows how to cross boundaries, a criminal does not, or has happened to fail once in the course of his journey. I wonder what good actors lie among our politicians and friends.
Since I am without those to whom a letter maybe sent, I thought I’d try something a little odd as consolation. You see, I wrote a letter to myself and styled it, ‘A correspondence with the Kuest’. The content of the letter was nothing extravagant, one was simply a series of questions, and the second gave my answers to them. Allow me to quote an extract from the letter sent to me by myself.
Kuest) It is good to finally hear from you, _____ _______. I have been monitoring your progress with keen interest, and pity, I’m afraid to say. In any case, there is a great amount which you may learn from me, this much is true. Be warned, however, I shall only instruct you if my advice is accepted to the fullest extent, without question or complaint. Do I have your allegiance?
Naturally, I assented to his request, which is to say, my request. For, I wished to know what more I could learn from myself.
Now, as far goes the experience, I’ll admit that this is something I normally do anyways. I took up the practice around my junior year in college, when I found myself in need of a second opinion without the extra voice that comes with it. Friends are hard to keep if the bond you share doesn’t run deeper than the imagination. Sure, talk is a fine gesture, but like a tenant out of cash, it is gone from memory sooner than it arrived.
So, when asked to write a letter, I thought, why not do so in a manner that inspires me? Why not learn something from the inspiration that dwells within me and arises from me? Just as the oxygen is inhaled and exhaled in the course of my breathing, so too is the word Kuest breathed in through my imagination and thus spoken to those to whom it concerns.
On the page, as one transmits his thoughts by pen, he realizes the importance of breathing as far as thinking is concerned. One might go so far as to call the act of inhalation, wisdom, and the act of exhalation, faith. Faith was poured out first in the form of question, and wisdom was there to greet the Faith in the form of Answers. A metamorphosis was achieved by means of this interaction between Faith and Wisdom. Questions became like an outpouring of air, and wisdom became like the blood that carries in its stream the air.
A striking thing becomes apparent. The words I’d normally write by keyboard, took on a different quality when manifested by pen. This is not so much in regards to the word choice, as the feeling behind the words. It is easier to discern the interaction between faith and wisdom when writing in the accustomed method than by the modern method. For, the pen must not only transmit what is thought, but the personality behind it as evidenced in the manner of writing.
If one’s manner is neat, for instance, it would suggest that the the thought being conveyed has been sanitized in a way. Faith then takes a picturesque form. But, let us suppose the quality of writing is very thin and scratchy. One sees that faith does not determine what is said, but rather affects the manner in which it is ‘breathed’ to life. In other words, faith is an test of the Will. It is therefore possible to read in the handwriting of another, the Will behind certain thoughts. (Of course, this is a mysterious subject which I have not yet come to grips with)
Now, by what standard do we separate Faith from Wisdom? In order to impart wisdom, one must give it not as himself, but as an intermediary. Thus, when I wished to answer my own questions, I was confronted with the need to distinguish the personality of my answer not just in the tone of writing, but in the quality of writing as well. This is something unique to the pen, for the keyboard does not transmit this quality of thought like the pen. It is the imprint of the pen that underlines one’s personality, even when he is jotting down the most sublime thoughts.
When responding in the form of Wisdom, I felt inclined to adopt a different tone than Faith, but did not at first see the need to change my manner of writing. I then took to experimenting how words may be written in order to convey different personalities. If I wished to speak to myself as two persons, how might the pen prove more suitable than the machine?
Handwriting, I think, is an important clue. To the extent one allows himself to subdue his personality for the sake of Wisdom, there shall also be a change in the handwriting as well to reflect the personality in which we experience Objectivity. Faith, then, was derived from my personality; but wisdom was taken from what lay beyond my personality, a divine being, so to speak.
To be honest, I have sometimes resorted to the keyboard in order to pursue this type of unnatural correspondence, but I find the pen works best in reconciling the two Voices.
If one were to believe the records kept by parliament, which they in their vindication called ‘a perfect diurnal’ of the day’s main event, than he in his gullible state would be impressed to learn how dignified a royal execution was in England. Particularly, the last bit of the so-called history authored on behalf of the Parliament in session at the time; it reads, “Then his body was put in a coffin covered with black velvet, and removed to his lodging chamber in Whitehall”. How very cordial were the circumstances of His Majesty’s execution; neither a cheer nor shout of dissent is observed in the records. Still, it is very difficult to imagine what sort of mood could be tied to the one sentence just quoted; somber, suppressed glee, mixed feelings perhaps?
Yes, not a whole lot of meat to chew from the corpse in the last sentence, which thus brings us to the Mystery at hand. What in fact were the circumstances after the execution of King Charles, as recalled by others, less partisan to the new order?
One juicy addition to the official records, or contradiction better still, is the account of Sir Roger Manley, who was a witness to the King’s death. He recalled the following in bitterness; “They were inhumanely barbarous to his dead corpse. His hair and his blood were sold by parcels…which were greedily bought, but for different ends, by some as trophies of their slain enemy, and by others as precious Reliques of their beloved prince.” (One may find this quote reproduced in the book, Trial of King Charles I by Joseph George Muddiman, specifically page 155)
Ah, well that is a great deal more intriguing than the one sentence offered by parliament. It also begs the question, might the one sentence used by parliament have been meant to encompass what Sir Manley saw? Why ignore the blood ritual before the coffin? More relevant to ask is the question, how? Even a light re-reading of the sentence quoted from the ‘diurnal’ suggests that the use of etiquette in writing was more than a matter of style.
It is not an easy life to lead, but then again fate is rarely chosen. To the unsuspecting mind, it would appear Beowulf chose his fate; or that the life he earned with his sword and fists was nothing more than a testament to his brave heart. Ah, but it is not an impressionable group of readers for whom I write, but those who find their thoughts bent on riddles and the like.
Our Mystery to be solved this time is so inconspicuous as to not be readily apparent. Around line 870 or so, we find this thane of the King’s household reciting in verse what he knew of the legend of Sigmund, an account of which is also contained in the Volsung sagas. Now, it so happens that there is an omission on line 879, where the Voice describes Sigmund and his companion, Fitela, as ‘uncle and nephew’. This is true, of course, but only accounts for half the story. You see, Sigmund was also the father of Fitela, as well as being his uncle, and I’ll leave you to guess what that entails. Incidentally, his defeat of the dragon left him in possession of cursed treasure which resulted in his death.
Anyways, after Sigmund, there was Sigurd, who confronted the dragon, Fafnir, the brother of his betrayer, Regin. Sigurd too found himself in possession of cursed gold. Fafnir, the dragon, actually warns Sigurd, “Sigurd! I now counsel thee, do thou take my counsel; and hence ride home. The jingling gold, and the gleed-red treasure, those rings, shall be thy bane”. Thus, in two instances, we find that the slaying of a dragon leads to cursed treasure. In the case of Sigurd, the dragon happened to be the brother of his betrayer, the latter of whom had persuaded Sigurd to kill his other sibling. In the case of Sigmund, his companion, Fitela, who was his son and nephew, just so happened to be absent at the time when the dragon appeared. It would be not too assertive to say that Fitela was in fact the dragon reincarnated.
This brings us back to Beowulf, what were the relations kept by Hrogthar, and how might this place himself in relation to the serpent and the serpent slayer? Did Hrothgar not have a nephew called Hrothful, who were to each other what Sigmund was to Fitela? And did not Hrothgar have a brother from whom he took the throne upon his death? Therein lies the Mystery, yet again!
A daring chef will not settle for plain ingredients, and if ever a culinary artist were to prepare a feast of languages, he’d be sure to exploit the taste of a good riddle, or Mystery better still. An excellent dish to consider is the poem, called the Funeral, by John Donne. It is certainly not the star of our menu, but such a concise meal as this lends itself to a more minute study of what traces there are of a secret recipe.
What is there to make of this talk of the brain? It is mentioned twice in the second stanza, and has an odd effect on the tone of our Voice. Let me quote the essence of this constituent, called the Mind, as it was introduced to us on line 9-11, “for if the sinewy thread my brain lets fall…can tie those parts and make me one of all”. It is very curious how in the midst of a funeral, the image of the mind is evoked as a means of gathering sympathy. Notice, the mind is no embodiment of our Voice, but is rather depicted in the same way you or I might imagine an instrument to achieve a desired effect. The phrase, “for if…my brain lets fall”, very nearly places the mind in an autonomous role, that is, in relation to the Voice.
Now, the Mind is conveyed directly to us on one last occasion, again in the second stanza. On line 13-14, we encounter the following riddle, “have from a better brain, can better do it; except she meant that I”. Now, the question arises, exactly who or what is the Mind better than? What amounts to the latter half of line 14 might suggest an answer in the form of a letter, being “I”. It is ‘I’, in other words, who, to borrow an earlier saying, “have from a better brain”. Oh, how fitting, therefore, that the Mind and not ‘I’ am honored at the funeral.
Let us end at the beginning of the poem, at lines 5-7. The Voice had then declared, “for tis my outward soul, viceroy to that, which then to heaven being gone, will leave this to control”. Well, here is the question at hand for the reader to dwell on if he so chooses; who is this viceroy who stands in place of the one in heaven?
It is interesting to consider the historical rite of Saturn, as it was practiced in and around the British Isles (one might also take an interest in Normandy). I shall be treating this subject in the coming few days. And I shall be wrapping my earlier essay on the Serpent who walked the Sea.
There is another book by the same title of this rumination, which I have kept for some time; and what is discussed in between the red covers shall not be repeated here, although the spirit of that discussion may find its way across the screen. And what is the Holy Spirit about which only hints can tell? It is a very mysterious matter, to be sure, but a bit of courage and recklessness will see us through.
I shall like to outline a certain duality, of what is really a trinity, being spelled out in the first of the sonnets assigned us. I shall then bring this duality in connection with Sonnet 19 (and 18 if space permits). In Sonnet 1, there is imagined a paradox at work. This living contradiction is best encapsulated in the lines which read as follows, “thou, feed’st thy light’s flame with self substantial fuel…thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel”. What is described, in other words, is a being who feeds on itself, or that part of itself which it is and isn’t. Therein lies one source of the Mystery, which we may call the Mystery of the Human Double.
So, we see in Sonnet 1 the makings of a fine duality. On the one hand, there is a self-contained entity which feeds on itself, and then there is the object of the self which is being devoured. Let us quickly identify the former persona as Time. In Sonnet 19, it is addressed as “devouring time”, and thus we may align our concept of the one who feeds with time, as is intimated by the Voice (see Sonnet 1, line3).
Now, there is constant tension between the Voice of the Sonnet and Time, that is, in relation to the body, which may in fact be the object of the self being devoured. In any case, it is worth our while as writers to point out how our craft so nearly resembles the handiwork of Time. On lines 9-10, there is this futile appeal to the riper, which reads, “O carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow, nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen”. How profound a metaphor is this! And, yet, there is some indication that what would appear to be a metaphor is not a metaphor at all. My suspicion is in some way borne out by lines 13-14, which read, “do thy worse, old Time…my love shall in my verse ever live young”.
Therein lies the second source of the Mystery, to whom do we accredit the beloved verse, or, the Word, in short? (Not the word as gospel, mind you, but the Logos, in the Greek or New Testament sense)
Well, friends, space is tighter than before, and let me end off with a question for you as a reader to ponder. May it be that the Voice and Time are one in the same, or are rather like two apples, of three, from the same tree? Is there, furthermore, a change of heart being attempted by the Voice in regards to Time, or himself, which might render a destroyer of the flesh (the flesh being also apart of our Voice), into an author instead? Hence, the title of this rumination! For Time as an agent was in the Greek called Kronos, which then was called Saturn in Roman times.
An introduction is very rarely not an orientation, not only for the viewer, but for the writer as well, whose style and voice is here thusly ascertained by him, as by the reader as well. It does not articulate the aim of this entry, but its desired effect, which I hope shall offer a window into my way of thinking. The aim itself, being also the objective, or Mysterious design, is to emphasize, in regards to the Wanderer, certain enigmas or paradoxes buried delicately within like jewels in the soil.
It is perhaps easier to convey strange things with familiar sources, and I can scarcely remember when I did not know of the story of the Wanderer, or that archetype of Norse mythology. Let us then delve as quickly as we can past the surface, and into that zone where the meaning of words change depending on the context. For, we seek not to analyze the tale itself, but the tale from a certain point of view, namely from the perspective of a serpent.
Oh, but we do not want the viewpoint of just any serpent! This consideration would be more appropriate to the class, if one were to remember the creature, Grendel, from Beowulf. Now, if one wished to fit in with today’s pleasant atmosphere of uncertainty, inasmuch as the sacred is concerned, he might refuse to see any coincidence between the descendant of Cain, the first exile, and the wandering exile of the poem in question.
An attitude like the one described might enjoy reading the first sentence of the poem, called The Wanderer, as metaphorical or as a simple literary device. Yet, what is written at the outset may likely render a different, more literal meaning to one such as Grendel. There is an odd phrase especially that would demand his sympathy, and so must excite our curiosity, and it is the so-called “exile’s path”. Did not Grendel walk this same path, as did his ancestor, Cain, before him? Think not, then, the path to be some random adventure, or unforeseen circumstance, but a long tradition upheld on the basis of a certain criteria. And, incidentally, the criteria for this tradition is more or less established where it is revealed.
It is said of the one who longs for mercy, “across the ocean ways he has long been forced, to stir with his hands the frost cold sea”. There, it maybe discerned how the path of an exile is in some way connected to his isolation at sea. That is, he is isolated by his very location, which itself is a reflection of his state of being, likewise isolated. And so the quoted reference maybe interpreted to mean, one’s state of existence is manifest in the place where he is located.
Of course, there arises the question as to the why and its tale; for few willingly venture out to sea on their own. Thus, wherefore our lonely friend came to sea? Well, the answer is contained in a single word, spelled Wyrd, which very likely means destiny or fate. So, the fate of the exile who wanders about is fixed, though his mind is disturbed, just as the water at sea is seldom still, but must follow a current nonetheless.
(to be continued…)