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Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Dostoyevsky, Ernest Becker, life, mystery, and the unknown

excerpted from THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, by Jack Haas




“I am at home in the marvelous. Absolutely at home.

The unknown, the mysterious, the exotic,

the strange, the never-lived-before, the difficult.”

Anais Nin



At the throbbing core of life, mystery suddenly becomes unavoidably obvious ...because meaning is now absolutely obscured. It is this descent from the surface of reasonableness, to the unreasonable center, which is the hero or heroine’s true journey. Heroic clarity then comes from simply accepting the furthest extent of one’s irrevocable confusion one can endure.

            Along with Dostoyevsky noted above, Henry Miller wrote about many of his other heroes as well, most of whom were mad artists, and his words convey the essential predicament of this chapter; he relates: “I see this other race of individuals ransacking the universe, turning everything upside down, their feet always moving in blood and tears, their hands always empty, always clutching and grasping for the beyond, for the god out of reach: slaying everything within reach in order to quiet the monster that gnaws at their vitals. I see that when they tear their hair with the effort to comprehend, to seize this forever unattainable, I see that when they bellow like crazed beasts and rip and gore, I see that this is right, that there is no other path to pursue. ...anything less shuddering...less mad, less counterfeit. ...Let us have...a world of natural fury, of passion, action, drama, dreams, madness, a world that produces ecstasy and not dry farts.”

            Ah, but what of propriety, respectability, and convention? Indeed, what of these?  In the pursuit of ecstasy and wonder, there is no room for petty concerns or approbation. And that applies as much inwardly, as it does out. Hence Ernest Becker described Rudolph Otto’s tangle with his own shattered psyche, stating: “[He] talked about the terror of the world, the feeling of overwhelming awe, wonder, and fear in the face of creation- the miracle of it, the mysterium tremendum et fascinosum of each thing, of the fact that there are things at all.”

            When the mind comes undone, the ego comes undone with it, as we recall from the necessary relationship between epistemological and psychological surrender.

The fact is that those who come to this critical loss of all cohesion find that there is much that is perceived by non-understanding alone; sublime phenomena requiring perversions of themselves in order to be vouchsafed to us. Which is to say, as it is by vegetation that we eat soil, air, sunlight, and dung, so it is through not-knowing that we apprehend the unknown. And therefore, if we seek to have a relationship with what cannot be known, then it is obvious that we cannot expect to exist in the security of  ‘knowing’.


excerpted from:


way of wonder, sacred geometry, sri yantra



THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves

by Jack Haas

author Jack Haas, Canadian, American writer, artist, photographer

















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