September 14, 2010
It's by virtue of our finitude that we find it difficult to envision things beyond a limited perspective- we have our prejudices, our pre-conceptions, our predilections, and so on.
There are times, however, when these biases give way and a broader perception of things is made manifest- as if we're seeing reality from the perspective of eternity.
These are the visions that the mystic seeks- but not just the mystic. Every human has at some point in their existence experienced that which is transcendental, that overwhelming flood of beauty and truth that everyday existence seems to lack ... and even though they may not be able to articulate that experience, they know with certainty that they've tasted the divine.
Myself? - I'm not unfamiliar with these experiences; I've even tried to articulate a few of them in verse (e.g. A Memory of Delta D.O.C.).
One thing I've noticed is that when these did occur with me they were sudden, unexpected, unrelenting, and usually carried with them an intensity that was so aesthetically pleasing that I almost aways fell into a crippling swoon- no exaggeration here.
There's a poem by Emily Dickinson, Our Lives are Swiss, that expresses beautifully experiences such as these.
In it- and this is by no means the only interpretation one can render- in it the life of the Swiss, surrounded by those towering Alps, signifies our limited state of existence as humans. There are times (odd afternoons) that these limitations give way ('The Alps neglect their Curtains') and we see clearly a broader scope of reality; we 'look further on' and behold that which is transcendental ('the other side').
The point of the poem, or at least one of the points I derive, is that there's a broader reality out there; that we ought, insofar as this is possible, to cast aside our prejudices, pre-conceptions, and predilections, so that we might better broaden our perspective of reality and peer, like the mystic, on life from the perspective of eternity.
Our lives are Swiss --
So still -- so Cool --
Till some odd afternoon
The Alps neglect their Curtains
And we look farther on!
Italy stands the other side!
While like a guard between --
The solemn Alps --
The siren Alps