from babylon to berlin: endless summer

The universal stream of forms flows on. What Hannah Arendt called the pulse of life, an interminable grinding of contradictions amidst a violent clash of the irreconcilable. How to find meaning in those unpredictable flashes in the space between. A small aperture creating infinite room and the seemingly little turn out to be everything. Yes, the tenuousness of hope, a fragility of connection, and above all the failure of our dreams. Dreams which had been illusions, perhaps necessary illusions, but like Kafka in the gatekeeper, we have the right to pass but can never pass.We chase a dialogue instead of telling our own story. But this story exists in a parallel silent conversation. Its found in the punctuation and the space in between the words, or the inflections.

Woody Allen. :ove and Death.---Woody Allen:Kant was right. The mind imposes order. It also tells you how much to tip. I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying. God is silent. Now if we can only get man to shut up. Read More: image:

Do not believe in tomorrow. Regard everyday as your last. Live without the faintest hint of regret. A necessary love of inconsistency. A love of extremes and a faith that unity will be found in the disparate and even antagonistic. An aggressive opposition to moderation and mediocrity. Throw Maimonides and his middle way out with the trash. The name Klingsor is taken from that of the magician, the shaman, in the German epic poem Parzival.

The figure of Wagner vanished far in the distance. He was not Wagner no longer; there was no Wagner. All that had been an illusion. Let Wagner die now!…

Woody Allen. Love and Death. ---His creative ambivalence on religious subjects showed up a bit in the movie Sleeper but was woven throughout in the sixth film he directed, Love and Death (1975). Allen admitted that the movie is highly critical of God. “It implies He doesn’t exist, or, if He does, He really can’t be trusted,” Allen wrote in Esquire. “Since coming to this conclusion,” he added, “I have twice been struck by lightning and once forced to engage in a long conversation with a theatrical agent.”--- Read More:

Klingsor’s Last Summer This loosely structured, episodic novella relates the last passionate, troubled, exhilarating summer of the middle-age Klingsor, a leading European painter. It begins with a preface, in which the narrator reports that Klingsor died in the fall. No one knows the circumstances of his death; there are rumors that he went mad and that he committed suicide. He was always known for his heavy drinking. The narrative then moves on to vivid, impressionistic snapshots of Klingsor’s life during that last, wild summer.The question is asked whether he is a scoundrel and profligate or a silly child. He himself feels that spirituality and sensuality are of equal value.

---Allen lacks a college degree, and he freely admits that he was ejected from both New York University and New York City College. However, in a classic joke he claims that while a student he was attracted to such abstract philosophy courses as “Introduction to God,” “Death 101” and “Intermediate Truth.” His downfall came when he cheated on his metaphysics final. “I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me,” he explains.--- read more: image:

But is this not life; the contradictory positions of ostensible equals? Klingsor’s Last Summer is about the unity of all things, the transience of beauty and the efforts of the artist to block and divert this transience through an interplay between the similarity of love to art. But all activity is related to time; this symptom of the man made and artificial construction which channels behavior like a Skinner box or a Pavlovian fantasy. Time is tyrant which impedes on the experience of love and art to a more complete extent. But, on the flip side, the opposite is equally true: we can curse time because it rules out opportunities for experience, but can be defended since only the elapsing of time makes different experiences possible. To freeze time would result in a sensorial overload unless it could live entirely within a golden ratio which would be a time prison. For Klingsor, love and art are also the means to thwart time, in that by making the most of love and art, the evil effects of time are neutralized if not outright defeated.

---A point Allen makes repeatedly, under the cover of comedy, is that people do not pay enough attention to the fact of their mortality. Death themes and jokes are more prevalent in his wit than are God jokes. His interest in the existence or nonexistence of God stems from his death obsession. Death is an “issue,” to use contemporary parlance, which should not be so passively accepted, he says. It’s very important to realize that we’re up against an evil, insidious, hostile universe, a hostile force. It’ll make you ill and age you and kill you. And there’s somebody -- or something -- out there who for some irrational, unexplainable reason is killing us. I’m only interested in dealing with the top man. I’m not interested in dealing with the other stuff because that’s not important -- although that is hard to say because there is hardly an iota of evidence of this.--- Read More:

But to Hesse, the irrational is the only avenue to take regarding attitude toward life. In its expressionistic manner, Klingsor is battered between two poles of personality; the spiritual and the sensual and the final chapter captures this irrational filtering of sensation and the coherence of the chaos in what may be one of the most fascinating and unique pieces of writing ever written. It is a devotion to the emotions and a rejection of Eastern influenced solutions. No, a violent and emotional affirmation of life is the only option to maintain and retain integrity, or at least an aggressive indifference. The emotions to Klingsor, as narrated by Klein, are valued more highly than the intellect. Its a rejection of the reason and intellect, but the vigorous denial of their virtue impliees their inescapable presence, a tree of knowledge from which absurdity can seek shade from the embers of the fiery and wild…

---“Scorning chronological order,” he writes, “I began with Kierkegaard and Sartre, then moved quickly to Spinoza, Hume, Kafka and Camus. I was not bored. . . . I remember my reaction to a typically luminous observation of Kierkegaard’s: ‘Such a relation which relates itself to its own self (that is to say, a self) must either have constituted itself or have been constituted by another.” The concept brought tears to my eyes. My word, I thought, to be that clever! . . . True, the passage was totally incomprehensible to me, but what of it as long as Kierkegaard was having fun?” Philosophical thought of men like, say, Russell and Dewey or even Hegel may be dazzling but it’s sober and uncharismatic. Dostoevski, Camus, Kierkegaard, Berdyaev -- the minds I like -- I consider romantic. I guess I equate dread’ with romance. My depression is why I’m drawn to philosophy, so acut

interested in Kafka, Dostoevski and Bergman I think I have all the symptoms and problems that those people are occupied with: An obsession with death, an obsession with God or the lack of God, the question of why we are here. Answers are what I want . . Read More: image:



Klingsor’s Last Summer: …cling to nothing, neither to good nor to evil. Then you were redeemed, then you were free of suffering, free of dread — only then.

His life lay before him like a landscape with woods, valleys, and villages that could be viewed from the ridge of a high mountain range. Everything had been good, simple and good, and everything had been converted by his dread, by his resisting, to torment and complexity, to horrible knots and convulsions of wretchedness and grief. There was no woman you could not live without — and there also was no woman with whom you could not have lived. There was not a thing in the world that was not just as beautiful, just as desirable, just as joyous as its opposite. It was blissful to live, it was blissful to die, as soon as you hung suspended alone in space. Peace from without did not exist; there was no peacefin the graveyard, no peace in God. No magic ever interrupted the eternal chain of births, the endless succession of God’s breaths. But there was another kind of peace, to be found within your own self. Its name was: Let yourself fall! Do not fight back! Die gladly! Live gladly!

All the figures of his life were with him, all the faces of his love, all the guises of his suffering. His wife was pure and as guiltless as himself. Teresina smiled childishly. The murderer Wagner, whose shadow had fallen so heavily across Klein’s life, smiled earnestly into his face, and his smile said that Wagner’s act, too, had been one way to redemption; it too had been breath, it too a symbol, and that even killing and blood and atrocities were not things that truly existed, but only assessments of our own self-tormenting souls. He, Klein, had spent years of his life dealing with Wagner’s murder, rejecting and approving, condemning and admiring, despising and imitating. Out of this murder he had created endless chains of torments, dreads, miseries. A hundred times, full of dread, he had attended his own death, had seen himself dying on the scaffold, had felt the razor blade cutting into his own throat and the bullet in his own temple — and now that he was dying the death he had feared, it was so easy, so simple, was joy and triumph. Nothing in the world need be feared, nothing was terrible — only in our delusions do we create all this fear, all this suffering for ourselves, only in our own frightened souls do good and evil, worth and worthlessness, craving and fear arise.

The figure of Wagner vanished far in the distance. He was not Wagner, no longer; there was no Wagner. All that had been illusion. Let Wagner die now! He, Klein, would live.

Water flowed into his mouth and he drank. From all sides, through all his senses, water flowed in; everything dissolved in it. He was being drawn, breathed in. Beside him, pressed against him, as close together as the drops of water, floated other people; Teresina floated, the old comedian floated, his wife, his father, his mother and sister, and thousands, thousands, thousands of others, and pictures and buildings as well, Titian’s Venus and Strasbourg cathedral, everything floated, pressed close together, in a tremendous stream, driven by necessity, faster and faster, rushing madly — and this tremendous, gigantic, raging stream of forms was racing toward another stream just as vast, racing just as fast, a stream of faces, legs, bellies, animals, flowers, thoughts, murders, suicides, written books, wept tears, dense, dense, full, full, children’s eyes and black curls and fishheads, a woman with a long rigid knife in her bloody belly, a young man resembling himself, face full of holy passion, that was himself at the age of twenty, that vanished Klein of the past. How good that this insight too was coming to him now: that there was no time! The only thing that stood between old age and youth, between Babylon and Berlin, between good and evil, giving and taking, the only thing that filled the world with differences, opinions, suffering, conflict, war, was the human mind, the young, tempestuous, and cruel human mind in the stage of rash youth, still far from knowledge, still far from God. That mind invented contradictions, invented names; it called some things beautiful, some ugly, some good, some bad. One part of life was called love, another murder. How young, foolish, comical this mind was. One of its inventions was time. A subtle invention, a refined instrument for torturing the self even more keenly and making the world multiplex and difficult. For then man was separated from all he craved only by time, by time alone, this crazy invention! It was one of the props, one of the crutches that you had to let go, that one above all, if you wanted to be free.

The universal stream of forms flowed on, the forms inhaled by God and the other, the contrary forms that he breathed out. Klein saw those who opposed the current, who reared up in fearful convulsions and created horrible tortures for themselves: heroes, criminals, madmen, thinkers, lovers, religious. He saw others like himself being carried along swiftly and easily, in the deep voluptuousness of yielding, of consent. Blessed like himself. Out of the song of the blessed and out of the endless cries of torment from the unblessed there rose over both universal streams a transparent sphere or dome of sound, a cathedral of music. In its midst sat God, a bright star, invisible from sheer brightness, the quintessence of light, with the music of the universal choirs roaring around in eternal surges.

Heroes and thinkers emerged from the universal stream, prophets. “Behold, this is God the Lord and his way leads to peace,” one of them cried, and many followed him. Another proclaimed that God’s path led to struggle and war. One called him light, one night, one father, one mother. One praised him as tranquillity, one as movement, as fire, as coal, as judge, as comforter, as creator, as destroyer, as forgiver, as avenger. God himself did not call himself anything. He wanted to be called, wanted to be loved, wanted to be praised, cursed, hated, worshipped, for the music of the universal choirs was his temple and was his life — but he did not care what names were used to hail him, whether he was loved or hated, whether men sought rest and sleep or dance and furor in him. Everyone could seek. Everyone could find.

Now Klein heard his own voice. He was singing. With a new, mighty, high, reverberating voice he sang loudly, loudly and resoundingly sang God’s praise. He sang as he floated along in the rushing stream in the midst of the millions of creatures. He had become a prophet and proclaimer. Loudly, his song resounded; the vault of music rose high; radiantly, God sat within it. The streams roared tremendously along….Read More:


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One Response to from babylon to berlin: endless summer

  1. ngai says:

    Ephesians 3:14-19 (New King James Version)

    Appreciation of the Mystery

    14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,[a] 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

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