Friday, January 18, 2008

Look. Behind that door. That's where they live.

The author of the blog HT always makes his point in a thought provoking way. In his review of a travel book, The Way of the World by Nicholas Bouvier, he says the following:

I for one, in my travels, have missed the time when the world was still exotic. Everywhere I have been – Thai beaches, Himalayan foothills, Qinghai, Istambul – I seemed to arrive too late, in the wake of developers, cinder blocks, mass tourism, and the Coca-Cola Company...The world is becoming a less varied place, homogenized and less interesting.

This process starts at home (Think mainstreaming of gay culture/excavation of the underground. Think the exposure of privacies of any kind via the net.) and ends on those farthest flung beaches where we will always find the comfortable service of an ATM machine and the logos of our familiarity.

Heaventree, if all your energy goes into devouring the miles before you, into seeing all that can be seen, into learning the nuances of yet another dialect, into yearning to wear the feathers of some exotic creature not yet photographed, either death and infirmity will arrest you (unless, like a vampire, you are doomed unhappily to roam the streets of many centuries), or you will reach the end of all roads and find yourself back at your starting-line.

Instead, I will go to that one place for which there is no guide book and no translation. The one place for which I carry no currency. A place where the provocations buzz with static. Where transactions are still difficult. Where daily plans are upset by the eruption of the sudden coup breaking thin walls. I will turn and walk into my own head where the vistas are endless and the landmarks curious. I'll be leaving the door open behind me, but only a fool...

So this is what it means to seek the monastic. I think I have finally reached that point. I can think of nothing more satisfying than to establish a monastery in which men might live in common and in pursuit of all that is wonderfully unknown within them. Not the silly and caricatured monastery twisted with rules of celibacy and poverty and various worried controls, but one in which the communal life supports those interior journeys that only the luckiest among us ever finally make. First, I suppose I'd need a building. I wonder who'd be the first through the door with a suitcase?


Brian Spolarich said...

I must admit that one of my deep longings would be to participate in the kind of community you're hinting at.

Although I think I would find it very difficult to be mature enough to handle the encounter with oneself required to embark on such a journey.

Gawain said...

How much is lost when neither heart nor eye
Rosewinged Desire or fabling Hope deceives;
When boyhood with quick throb hath ceased to spy
The dubious apple in the yellow leaves;
When, rising from the turf where youth reposed,
We find but deserts in the far-sought shore;
When the huge book of Faery-land lies closed,
And those strong brazen clasps will yield no more.

an apt quote for your sentiments?

i don't think we are at risk of running out of new things to learn, even if we should run out of exotic shores. there are good books and good paintings and good drama enough to suffice a single life span. but monasticism -- or eremitism (same thing minus the community) has its appeal. have you seen my post on Great Silence?

Warm regards and thanks for the plug

Prince G

Father Tony said...

Dear Prince G,
It is indeed an apt quote, but by dint of relentless testosterone, my brazen clasps frequently come undone. I'm off to your post on Great Silence.

inhaclac... said...

If you haven't yet read the recently published book Lines: A Brief History by British anthropologist Tim Ingold, do. He spends much of the mook making the distinction between wayfaring and navigating--linking these two ways of looking at the world to such things as reading. For the navigator, life is about "the shortest distance between two points"; for the wayfarer it is about how the world opens up as one travels through it.
The wonderful oxymoron comes to mind: a monastic wayfarer.

Gawain said...

Father Tony, I am somewhat disconcerted by the thought that you should undo your brazen clasps before heading over to my palace, but am soothed to think that the great silence will calm the raging passions.