Weekly Ruminations

Volume Three

There are special nightmares for the daytime sleeper: little nervous dreams tossed into some brief restless moments of unconsciousness and breaking through the surface of the mind to become confused at once with the horror of some waking vision. Such are these awakenings, like an awakening in the grave, when one opens one’s eyes, stretched out rigid with clenched hands, waiting for some misery to declare itself; but for a long time it lies to suffocation upon the chest and utters no word.

Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

Events stream past us like these crowds and the face of each is seen only for a minute … All work and all love, the search for wealth and fame, the search for truth, like itself, are made up of moments which pass and become nothing … So we live; a spirit that broods and hovers over the continual death of time, the lost meaning, the unrecaptured moment, the unremembered face, until the final chop that ends all our moments and plunges that spirit back into the void from which it came.

Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

There is a lot of food for thought in Dame Murdoch’s (1919-1999) novel Under the Net. I’m quite fond of an afternoon nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon or a power nap after a long day at work. But if you nap too long or too deeply, you feel haunted by nightmares only to wake and not know who you are or why you’re here, and you wonder what masterful enterprise in which you may have consumed yourself while flushing all those daytime hours, full of hope and promise, down the drain.

She also eloquently writes about those days, sometimes even weeks, on end, when you can’t seem to focus, or concentrate, or observe in impartial solitude, when you’re eaten up by desire, when your mind speeds like a roller coaster off the rails. You try to hold onto the moment but the gale force of it overpowers you, so you try to seize the next, and it, too, flies out of your grip … and then the next, and so on. And it seems as if your thoughts are hounded by demons out of your control, and you hope for angels whom may one day lift you out of the sludge … and then it happens.

There is rest. There is peace. The sun burns and purifies you, and the sky is cloudless because you float above the clouds. And you wonder why it took so long, why it couldn’t have happened before, and why you had sunk into the sludge, anyway.

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Word of the Week

heresiarch: (n.) : an originator or chief advocate of a heresy.

I recently read the word heresiarch in an odd piece of fiction by Borges called Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius:

Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had declared that mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number or men.

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges

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