Shadow of the Groundhog # 8: The Howl

What is ultimately to be gained? This is the bottom line of human motivation. Cui bono—who benefits?

Is the point of existence to be as fully engaged as we can and forget all about trying to figure out if this is what we are “supposed” to be doing with our time? Or is it to wait until there’s a clear signal to move, even if it means doing nothing at all for the rest of our lives?

What’s the difference between working an honest wage and trying to promote one’s creative work so as to eventually earn some income? Is there even such thing as “an honest wage”?

Here we have another shade of the groundhog’s shadow. Not feeling enraged with others for ignoring my efforts, but somehow embarrassed with myself for making such an effort to begin with.

Embedded in me is the idea that to offer myself up to others is whorish. Of course I can’t say “whorish” anymore; now I need to say “sex workerish”—which is patently absurd because what I am offering has nothing to do with sex and I am not even selling it but offering it for free. I guess that makes me a slut?

(Watch me digging the hole deeper with every word.)

As an artist, to take pride in the work means I am not supposed to care whether anyone else recognizes what I am doing or not. But if I really take pride in it, wouldn’t I want as many people to see it as possible?

Jack Torrance wanders the labyrinth while working on the great American novel: a single line, repeated endlessly until the end of time.

In the beginning was the word, but the word was an incoherent howl.

And that’s as far as we ever get.

14 thoughts on “Shadow of the Groundhog # 8: The Howl

  1. I’ve felt like that every time I’ve tried to use my degree. Finished with top honors and I half ass carry the title of their (my professors) greatest disappointment/failure with pride. Starting to think the fact that I didn’t walk at my graduation was kind of symbolic.

    • “Concubine in the Bible denotes a female conjugally united to a man, but in a relation inferior to that of a wife. Among the early Jews, from various causes, the difference between a wife and a concubine was less marked than it would be amongst us.”

  2. Exquisite, beautiful, and elegiac music, pseudonym3000.

    *

    Die Ros ist ohn warum; sie blühet, weil sie blühet.
    Sie acht nicht ihrer selbst, fragt nicht, ob man sie siehet.

    The rose is without ‘why’; it blooms simply because it blooms.
    It pays no attention to itself, nor does it ask whether anyone sees it.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Angelus_Silesius

    By melancholy saith [Aristotle], some men are made as it were divine, foretelling things to come, and some men are made poets.

    Aristotle, in his Problems, asks why it is that outstanding philosophers, statesmen, poets or artists (or heroes) are of a melancholic temperament, or even “infected by the diseases arising from black bile”. The idea arises here that black bile causes a super-human quality …

    Even those with “moderately heated” black bile, says Aristotle, are “superior to the rest of the world in many ways”, chiefly through their acute intelligence.

    The near-identity of the words manike (madness) and mantike (prophetic divination) proved, for Plato, their common etymological origins and therefore the essential and prerequisite condition for both foresight and artistic genius which could never be derived from merely human talents:

    “But he who, having no touch of the Muses’ madness in his soul, comes to the door and thinks that he will get into the temple by the help of art – he, I say, and his poetry are not admitted; the sane man disappears and is nowhere when he enters into rivalry with the madman.”

    This state of divine possession – the enraptured performer who was both man and god – was to take hold of the Renaissance imagination and lift the status of poetry and music to unprecedented heights; for if music could embody divine qualities, it could have the effect of raising the listener’s soul to a similar ecstatic union through sympathetic resonance.

    https://www.academia.edu/472454/

  3. Embedded in me is the idea that to offer myself up to others is whorish. …

    I guess that makes me a slut? …

    In the beginning was the word, but the word was an incoherent howl.

    And that’s as far as we ever get.

    *

    What affliction of spiritual impotence …

    “Have you then perished that you leave your Lord of love to perish?”

    But consider the idea of a God who is essentially sadness and longing, yearning to reveal himself, to know himself through a being who knows him, thereby depending on that being who his still himself, yet who in this sense creates him – here we have a vision which has never been professed outside of a few errant knights of mysticism.

    … liberating the Feminine principle from the demonic forces which had invested it with the complexes of a patriarchal world.

    “O you, corrupted by the death inside your skin!
    To the voice of the Beloved, return from non-being.
    Absolute, this voice comes from the Lord of love, …”

    Say:

    “Thy love has melted upon me like that of women.”

    “For I love thee, O Eternity!”

    http://books.google.de/books?id=A8PzaQZwzZQC

  4. https://www.academia.edu/472446

    The Angel

    Which now brings us to the supreme form of manifestation of Absolute Being, which is in the Presence of the Angel. Corbin says “The Angel is the face that our god takes for us, and each of us finds his god only when he recognises that face.” Such a recognition takes place in the imaginal world. Far from being creations of human fantasy, the angelic beings exemplify an intensity of ‘real being’ of which we are mere reflections.

    … each human soul has as its counterpart, a celestial soul, who is the eternal and perfected individuality of the person, their “transcendent celestial self” …

    The question then becomes how to integrate the earthly ego with this soul and through it with its angel, for it is through such an engagement that the individual becomes fully a Person, an integrated whole, connected to the source of Being yet also active in the world.

    *** Indeed failure to connect with the angel results in very real powers of darkness invading the soul, and here Corbin differs from his contemporary Carl Jung, for he did not see the dark forces as a shadow to be integrated, but as an enemy to be defeated by the powers of Light. ***

    In other respects, we could certainly talk of this coniunctio of human and angelic in terms of individuation, for the ego must undergo a painful transformation before the encounter with the angel can occur. The metaphors of travelling to the underworld, fighting the dragon, undergoing the alchemical nigredo or submitting to the tasks of Psyche all point to the struggle which precedes the dawn of consciousness which will inevitably entail meeting with the angelic Guide. This guardian angel or daimon will be revealed in a manner of ways, through a dream or visionary experience or a passionate encounter with an embodied human being, but it will only manifest in so far as the soul is ready for it.

    Making the connection, however, is not easy; it involves breaking through the boundaries of habitual consciousness and opening up to an intensity of existence normally inaccessible – hence the ecstasies of the mystic, or the divine frenzies of the Platonic over.

    … the Angel can only manifest itself through the sensory world of images, be they in a dream, in artistic creations or human persons. This is when they become symbols, …

    The process then of discovering the Angel is the task of what Corbin called spiritual hermeneutics—the unveiling or uncovering of reality to disclose meanings beyond the literal, …. However interpretation in the neoplatonic sense is not an intellectual activity, but a passionate one. It is the intensity of the soul’s desire that leads it through ever deeper levels of penetration into the meaning of the cosmic text before it.

    This movement involves a progressive reversion and interiorisation, until the point is reached at which there is no differentiation between the knower and what is known, between universal truth and personal encounter, between human ego and angelic consciousness.

    Himma

    This is the power that facilitates the presence of the Angel, through the very act of desiring it. Corbin defines himma as “the act of meditating, conceiving, imagining, projecting, ardently desiring. … It is the force of an intention so powerful as to project and realise a being external to the being who conceives the intention”.

    Corbin suggests that the artist too may perform the role of magician, creating external forms through his art for the divine quality he has perceived through his himma, and thus leading the viewer or listener also to perceive it.

    “Here we have a compelling term of comparison”, he says, “by which to measure the decadence of our dreams and of our arts”.

    To those who have cultivated the direction of affective force through longing and desire, the Angel will reveal itself, often in an intensely private and uncommunicable way, disguised as an event which to an outsider seems no different from any other.

  5. “What is ultimately to be gained? This is the bottom line of human motivation. Cui bono—who benefits?”

    Human motivation is based on the will to live – except when it’s not.

    “Is the point of existence to be as fully engaged as we can.…”

    What does it mean to be ‘as fully engaged as we can [be]’?

    “…. and forget all about trying to figure out if this is what we are “supposed” to be doing with our time?”

    I like that as advice!

    “Or is it to wait until there’s a clear signal to move, even if it means doing nothing at all for the rest of our lives?”

    Yes, I’m going to move into a cave now and wait for God to direct me. … Damn, I hope somebody brings me food and water.

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