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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

The View From Above

"We learn of great things by little experiences. The history of ages is but an indefinite repetition of the history of hours. The record of a soul is but a multiple of the story of a moment. The Recording Angel writes in the Great Book in no rainbow tints; his pen is dipped in no colours but light and darkness. For the eye of infinite wisdom there is no need of shading. All things, all thoughts, all emotions, all experiences, all doubts and hopes and fears, all intentions, all wishes seen down to the lowest strata of their concrete and multitudinous elements, are finally resolved into direct opposites." - Bram Stoker, The Jewel of Seven Stars


Jewel is a book about a mummy's curse, but this quotation may be the scariest thing in it. In our modern world, where "toleration" is venerated -- a  world in which a bestseller is titled "Fifty Shades of Grey" -- what a frightening idea this is -- that, in the end, all that we do or dream is either black or white.

It's easy enough to disagree with Stoker's assessment.   In our everyday lives, it's all but mandatory that we do. He recognizes this, of course. What he's talking about is...well, let's leave religion out of it: the bird's eye view. From that elevation, a thing is  either one thing or it's another, there's no in between.

Think about that. Every action, every emotion, every thought -- right or wrong. It's terrifying. Because I think most of us would probably feel more wrong than right most of the time. Whether that feeling comes from religion or simple conscience makes little  difference. It isn't pleasant, either way.

The easy thing is to ignore that nasty bird -- or,  maybe even better, pick up a stone and knock him right out of the sky. But if he falls, so too will our loftiest goals and aspirations. Catch 22: we can't progress unless we can see our weaknesses and we can't see our weaknesses without progression.

And that just leaves the alternative: trying, as best  we can, and with all our modern ideas, to lift that mummy's curse, knowing full well that the curse itself proves how little we know.