Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I revisit the book I wrote, one readers react to with sadness.

One of the oldest themes of all kind of literature, that of being sick, in need of a physician.  (Sick, broadly defined, that line of good health particular to an individual with habits that work for him, causing his own style, and the sickness sometimes being that which happens when he eats a diet intended for the main stream.)  Dostoyevsky, perfect every time, for which he went through a lot to achieve and a naturally anxious type of genius bent person, renders it directly, no beating around the bush: "I am a sick man, I am an ill man...

The theme makes you think of a Hemingway, so often a writer looking for a new situation, an old one, where he can be himself, listen to himself, observe himself, react and follow himself.  As a writer, if he is to be a writer, must.   What is an author doing but trying to diagnose the self, to look for what's wrong with him that makes him so.  Illness within, wrongs of the outside world, perceived, reacted to.  Hemingway has different answers, I suppose, for different periods of his life, a shift of theme and context between, say, young fisherman and old fisherman, boy, teenager, young soldier, adult, landowner, forest dweller....  And notably there is the act of his continued writing, as if that provided him a basic platform of good health.  You could follow on with his story into the lives of his descendants, their own struggles and solutions, yoga, exercise, refrain from alcohol...  Or, yet another version of the story.

After the blizzard and the extra duties of house sitting and shoveling, sore of muscle, finally making it home, after being commandeered for a few nights of work amidst the blizzard's aftermath, I sit out in sunlight before a shift.  I heat water, making licorice tea.  Hot shower.  I do my yoga.  The chakras, the posture, balanced again.  There was the shift the night before, but good moderation, not too much button pushing of a late crowd.  The quiet of a night when no one wants to go out, and the street's parking places piled with cemented snow drifts thrown up by the plows.

The book I wrote, I suppose it too spelled out examples, problems, short-comings, bad habits, stupidity.  The usual foibles of those of college age, young people being youthful.   The girl in it mentions to the character the benefits of sunlight, something he might listen to, because sunlight is a healthy thing.

Like Emily Dickinson before him, as a student he is tossed in, to varying extents, with the irredeemable, excommunicated from the Congregational salvation.  Superficially, nothing major.

Jesus knows it in himself, perhaps, and so to whom he has come are those in need of a cure, to those sin against the good health of righteousness.

And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself.  (Luke 4:23.)  Then he points out some of the faults of local society, one being the failure to accept a prophet in his own country.  And this does not make them happy, nor win him favor.

It's quite a statement.  One even today no one would want to touch with a ten foot pole.  It speaks of the hardhearted judgmental quality of people engaged in a society, taking part in it, knowing its parameters, its limits as to what is acceptable.

But Jesus seems to have, all along, this sense of 'sin.'  He gets the sins of publicans, gluttons, wine-bibbers, of those who seek pleasures, money, etc.  He seems to have a good physical sense of how such things occur from within.  He knows skepticism, knowing it in his own.

But because he is sensitive, a writer, a thoughtful sensitive person out to do good, he has this creative mode, one which brings him to good health and peace of mind.

Sure, sure, there were for Jesus the sort of relatively frivolous times, the flirtations.  There remains him his good humor, his willingness, even an eagerness, to hang out with the outcasts, and the sort of garden variety of fallible people, the salt of the earth types that have sin but also that potential for the great flavor...  He is never afraid of such people, as if he were always ever learning something from them.  His physical model of what it takes to be healthy.

Buddha, by the way, same thing.  The cure was to do diminish the sense we might naturally have of a fixed self separate from the rest of all things that exist and That Which Is....

Does he bring The Rejection at Nazareth upon himself, one might ask.  Is it within his divine omniscient nature that he reads their hearts, or is it that he, being familiar with them, already knows these people he addresses.  Perhaps to him he's just being matter-of-fact about such things, maybe even as a general attribute of human nature, but which if mentioned in a church or a synagogue, you have to be a bit careful about.  Perhaps he's just pointing out, underscoring, another sin common to humanity, the same association, fraternity he has, through his understanding, of the sinner, the drinker, the adulterer, the publican.  But here, it's too much for them; they get angry with him.

Is he being accusatory, or matter of fact with them?  It seems the calmness with which he enters into this discussion is the calmness that lets him walk away through their midst when they were ready to throw him off the high place the town is built on.

I can't help but think that this doesn't bear some relationship to, as far as what he's telling them all, his statement of good personal health, which is, 'beware the leaven of the Pharisees.'  A very succinct statement.   Meaning, acknowledge that which is healthy for you to do.  Don't accept, necessarily, what you're told is good for you because the almighty 'they' do it, suggesting an almighty 'we,' but do what's good for you.  Do what's good for you.  That's all.

This is what makes the writer's life a bit more interesting.

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