He is Revealed Only in Tears

‘Compared to philosophers, saints know nothing. Yet they know everything. Compared to Aristotle, any saint is an illiterate. What makes us then believe we might learn more from the latter? Because all the philosophers put together are not worth a single saint. Philosophy has no answers. Compared to philosophy, saintliness is an exact science. It gives us precise answers to questions that philosophers do not dare even consider. Its method is suffering and its goal is God.

God nestles in spiritual voids. He covets inner deserts, for God, like an illness, incubates at the point of least resistance…Saints, criminals and paupers have launched him, making him available to all unhappy people.

The church was wrong to canonize so few women saints. Its misogyny and stinginess makes me want to be more generous. Any woman who sheds tears for love in loneliness is a saint. The church has never understood that saintly women are made of God’s tears.

In the world of feeling, tears are the only criterion of truth.’

Emil Cioran, Tears and Saints, translated by Ilinca Zarifopol Johnston.

‘When he is sorrowful, a man becomes a Christian.  When happy, he is a pagan.  All this goes back through the ages, to the very beginning of time…How can we weep before the ancient gods?…It is impossible to say to Jupiter:  “Grant me solace.”  But when great sorrow fell over mankind:  “Grant me solace” – Christ appeared…“Grant us solace!  Protect us!  Save us!”  In the suffering of mankind there is something more significant, darker, deeper, more terrible, more portentous, but without doubt it is deeper than any joy…“I want a miracle, O God, give me a miracle!”  This cry is Christ.

He wept.

He is revealed only in tears.  The one who never weeps never sees Christ.  But the one who weeps will not fail to see Him.

Christ – He is the tears of mankind, that once opened upon an amazing story, an amazing event.

Who solved the mystery of tears?  Some people do not weep over any misfortune.  Others weep over relatively small things.  The soul of a woman rests on tears.  A woman’s soul differs from a man’s.  This world of tears –what is it then?  It is female (to some extent), and it is suffering (also to some extent).  It belongs to the eternal categories.  And Christianity is eternal.

Christianity is gentler, more refined, and more profound than paganism.  All the fertile “Abrahams” are not worth one weeping woman.’

Vasily Rozanov, extracts from Solitaria and Fallen Leaves.

Taken from here: https://extravagantcreation.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/vasily-rozanov-from-solitaria-and-fallen-leaves/

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A Second and Fairer Edition

‘The whole business of our redemption is, in short, only to rub over the defaced copy of the creation, to reprint God’s image upon the soul, and, as it were, to set forth nature in a second and fairer edition; the recovery of which lost image, as it is God’s pleasure to command, and our duty to endeavour, so it is in His power only to effect; to whom he rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty and dominion, both now and forever more. Amen.’

Robert South, Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, 1679.

‘Writing is the creature’s revenge, and his answer to a botched creation.’

Emil Cioran, Anathemas and Admirations.

The Active Life

‘Having a horror of any action, he keeps telling himself: ‘Movement, what folly!’ It is not so much events which vex him as the notion of participating in them; and he bestirs himself only in order to turn away from them. His sneers have devastated life before he has exhausted its juice. He is a crossroads Ecclesiast who finds in the universal meaninglessness an excuse for his defeats… Bearing the image of what he might have been as a stigma and a halo, he blushes and flatters himself on the excellence of his sterility, forever alien to naive seductions, the one free man among the helots of time.He extracts his liberty from the enormity of his lack of accomplishments; he is an infinite and pitiable God whom no creation limits, no creature worships, and whom no one spares. The scorn he has poured out on others is returned by them. He expiates only the actions he has not performed, though their number exceeds the calculations of his wounded pride. But at the end, as a kind of consolation, and at the close of a life without honors, he wears his uselessness like a crown.’

Emil Cioran, A Short History of Decay, translated by Richard Howard.

‘The active life has always struck me as the least comfortable of suicides. To act, in my view, is a cruel and harsh sentence passed on the unjustly condemned dream. To exert influence on the outside world, to change things, to overcome obstacles, to influence people – all of this seems more nebulous to me than the substance of my daydreams. Ever since I was a child, the intrinsic futility of all forms of action has been a cherished touchstone for my detachment from everything, including me. To act is to react against oneself. To exert influence is to leave home.

Abstaining entirely from action and taking no interest in Things, I’m able to see the outside world with perfect objectivity. Since nothing interests me or makes me think it should be changed, I don’t change it.

Whenever my ambition, influenced by dreams, raised above the everyday level of my life, so that for a moment I seemed to soar, like a child on a swing, I always – like the child – had to come down to the public garden and face my defeat, with no flags to wave in battle and no sword I was strong enough to unsheathe.’

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, translated by Richard Zenith.

‘How many lazy men’s truths have been admitted in the name of the imagination! How often has the term imagination been used to prettify the unhealthy tendency of the soul to soar off in a boundless quest after truth, leaving the body where it always was! How often have men escaped from the pains of their own bodies with the aid of that sentimental aspect of the imagination that feels the ills of others’ flesh as its own!

Yet my dreams became, at some stage, my muscles. The muscles that I had made, that existed, might give scope for the imagination of others, but no longer admitted of being gnawed away by my own imagination.’

Yukio Mishima, Sun and Steel.

Foliage without Fruit

Erudition can produce foliage without bearing fruit.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Wastebooks, translated By R. J. Hollingdale.

To read is to let someone else work for you – the most delicate form of exploitation.

Emil Cioran, Anathemas and Admirations, translated by Richard Howard.

Reading is merely a surrogate for yourself; it means letting someone else direct your thoughts. Many books, moreover, serve merely to show you how many ways there are of being wrong, and how far astray you yourself would go if you followed their guidance. You should read only when your ow thoughts dry up which will of course happen frequently enough even to the best heads; but to banish your own thoughts so as to take up a book is a sin against the holy ghost; it is like deserting a untrammeled nature to look at a herbarium or engravings of landscapes…If anyone spends almost the whole day reading…he gradually loses the capacity for thinking…This is the case with many learned persons; they have read themselves stupid.

Arthur Schopenhauer, ‘On Thinking for Yourself‘, from Essays and Aphorisms, translated and selected by R. J. Hollingdale.

Day and Night

‘True knowledge comes down to vigils in the darkness: the sum of our insomnias alone distinguishes us from the animals and from our kind. What rich or strange idea was ever the work of a sleeper? Is your sleep sound? Are your dreams sweet? You swell the anonymous crowd. Daylight is hostile to thoughts, the sun blocks them out; they flourish only in the middle of the night…Conclusion of nocturnal knowledge: every man who arrives at a reassuring conclusion about anything at all gives evidence of imbecility or false charity. Who ever found a single joyous truth which was valid?’

Emil Cioran, A Short History of Decay.

‘A hostility towards the sun was my only rebellion against the spirit of the age. I hankered after Novalis’s night and Yeatsian Irish twilights. However, from the time the war ended, I gradually sensed that an era was approaching in which to treat the sun as an enemy would be tantamount to following the herd.

The literary works written or put before the public around that time were dominated by night thoughts—though their night was far less aesthetic than mine. To be really respected at that time, moreover, one’s darkness had to be rich and cloying, not thin. Even the rich honeyed night in which I myself had wallowed in my boyhood seemed to them, apparently, very thin stuff indeed.

Little by little, I began to feel uncertain about the night in which I had placed such trust during the war, and to suspect that I might have belonged with the sun worshippers all along. It may well have been so. And if it was indeed so—I began to wonder—might not my persistent hostility towards the sun, and the continued importance I attached to my own small private night, be no more than than a desire to follow the herd?

The men who indulged in nocturnal thought, it seemed to me, had without exception dry, lustreless skins and sagging stomachs. They sought to wrap up a whole epoch in a capacious night of ideas, and rejected in all its forms the sun that I had seen. They rejected both life and death as I had seen them, for in both of these the sun had had a hand.’

Yukio Mishima, Sun and Steel.