Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Sword

Saint Paul exhorts Christians to compete against one another in godliness, to stimulate excellence. Competition seems to be, not so much a fact of life, as Life itself. We all struggle, primarily (if we are wise) against ourselves, but indirectly this affects others. "Reason" and "liberalism" and "secularism" essentially either deny this totally, or embrace it in an animalistic context. Thus, politics consists in making sure CNN drifts farther left day by day, while protesting loudly against Republican domination of small talk radio. Cover words like "fairness" and "equality" are used as cloaks of maliciousness, to disguise the ugliness of the political act, both in itself as an end, but also the means, which has to be covered in velvet. Both sides do this - the "free"market today operates on the crony capitalist model with words like "choice" and "opportunity". The solution is not to castrate man (the Left) or to baptize convenient "as-isms" (the Right) but to direct man's attention to the inward spiritual struggle against himself. Anything else will first provide food for the carrion, & turn to carrion itself in turn.

Here is Jeffers (courtesy of D. Layman at First Things, who inspired this article...)

Contemplation Of The Sword
"Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide. The sword: an obsolete instrument of bronze or steel, formerly used to kill men, but here In the sense of a symbol. The sword: that is: the storms and counter-storms of general destruction; killing of men, Destruction of all goods and materials; massacre, more or less intentional, of children and women; Destruction poured down from wings, the air made accomplice, the innocent air Perverted into assasin and poisoner. The sword: that is: treachery and cowardice, incredible baseness, incredible courage, loyalties, insanities. The sword: weeping and despair, mass-enslavement, mass-tourture, frustration of all hopes That starred man's forhead. Tyranny for freedom, horror for happiness, famine for bread, carrion for children. Reason will not decide at last, the sword will decide. Dear God, who are the whole splendor of things and the sacred stars, but also the cruelty and greed, the treacheries And vileness, insanities and filth and anguish: now that this thing comes near us again I am finding it hard To praise you with a whole heart. I know what pain is, but pain can shine. I know what death is, I have sometimes Longed for it. But cruelty and slavery and degredation, pestilence, filth, the pitifulness Of men like hurt little birds and animals . . . if you were only Waves beating rock, the wind and the iron-cored earth, With what a heart I could praise your beauty. You will not repent, nor cancel life, nor free man from anguish For many ages to come. You are the one that tortures himself to discover himself: I am One that watches you and discovers you, and praises you in little parables, idyl or tragedy, beautiful Intolerable God. The sword: that is: I have two sons whom I love. They are twins, they were born in nineteen sixteen, which seemed to us a dark year Of a great war, and they are now of the age That war prefers. The first-born is like his mother, he is so beautiful That persons I hardly know have stopped me on the street to speak of the grave beauty of the boy's face. The second-born has strength for his beauty; when he strips for swimming the hero shoulders and wrestler loins Make him seem clothed. The sword: that is: loathsome disfigurements, blindness, mutilation, locked lips of boys Too proud to scream. Reason will not decide at last: the sword will decide."

Robinson Jeffers

Man is an animal. But that is not all he is, or if he is, then -

"Thus materialism amounts to reducing man to the animal, and even to the lowest, since the lowest is the most collective; this explains the materialists' hatred for all that is supra-terrestrial, transcendent, spiritual, for it is precisely the spiritual by which man is not an animal. To deny the spiritual is to deny the human: the moral and legal distinction between man and animal then becomes purely arbitrary, like any other tyranny..."
--F. Schuon

As OneCosmos has it, man is an animal with this inconvenience, that he knows he is one. This is the terrible anxiety of modern man, because (of course), none of it is true. The knowledge of this truth/un-truth is both innate, and the product of a struggle with self. This used to be in our bones. Now, the denial of the Absolute, absolutely, is in almost all the air we breath. Western man is dying because he is not God, knows it, and believes that this makes him God. And so the vicious circle goes; the lower we sink, collectively, the harder it is to remember those intimations of deprivation which alert us to the living and real.

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