My Calvinist Heritage
… like feeling guilty for breathing deeply, enjoying the beauty of a perfect day, when there are important things I should be worrying about.
My senses present convincing evidence that I am in fact the center of the universe. By communicating with others I know that they too experience this, that they sense that they are the center of all things. What I do with this information reveals a lot about me. If I say ‘well then, my senses deceive me, as their senses deceive them’ and set out to find the true center I am one sort of being. If I say ‘They are all deluded; they imagine that they are me, the center of the universe’ I am a very different sort of being. In that case I have a bright future in commerce, or in politics, or in the Church.
Or in upper postal management, for that matter.
For an apophatic Catholic I spend an inordinate amount of energy trying to figure everything out, to come up with my own personal Unified Theory. And of course there is the further paradox that if the Real, even in its physical essence, is unknowable then even the knowledge of not-knowing is suspect. Zen addressed this, I believe.
In koans, little mysteries.
I said last winter that I was trying to hold my head above water and swim toward the light. These days I breath deep and float in the dark.
An Apophatic Hymn
I know this band ended up making a lot of overproduced dance mixes of their tunes, all electric drum beats and synthesizers, but before they cashed in they made some very fine music. This song is from twenty years ago, and I do not know what they intended by it, but it makes a great hymn from my pew. This album was produced by Joe Boyd, who was Nick Drake’s producer, if this sounds vaguely familiar:
Painting by Georgia O’Keefe