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Heinrich von Kleist, William Blake, Proverbs of Hell, lunacy, pathos, temerity, and madness

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




“...everything is distorted and displaced

as soon as it understands itself.”

Heinrich von Kleist



            Is it not our habit to distort everything, especially ourselves, by assuming to understand them? It is our pathos, our temerity, or caution, or demise.

And therefore, recognizing this, when finally we do confront ourselves with complete openness and candor, we must struggle not to turn quickly away, having found that we do not actually know who or what we are. Instead we must remain there, right in the eye of the hurricane, fully intimate with the self's bewilderment and confusion. We must “keep that don’t know mind” when it matters most- when it is our own ‘I’ of which we know nothing.

Cioran stated: “When we perceive ourselves existing we have the sensation of a stupefied madman who surprises his own lunacy and vainly seeks to give it a name.”

What is required of mystical madmen, or madwomen, is to forge relentlessly into the unknown, no longer into the known; to accept over and over again that indeed we are all lost- that we understand nothing of the world or ourselves, and then to have the endurance to expect no reward, no solution, no final understanding, but only the need for more exasperation, more uncertainty, more incapacity.

“If the fool would continue his folly, he would become wise”, wrote William Blake in his Proverbs of Hell. And the lucky corollary to Blake’s aphorism is: if the wise man would continue his wisdom, he would become a fool.

If we are passionate and mad enough, the more we seek to understand the more we realize we do not understand, and eventually we cease to seek, and instead we just ‘are’- we just live in the uncertain, absurd, implausible, inconceivable void. Indeed, the wise person who continues on with wisdom must necessarily fall ...dumb.

Hence Cioran finally admitted: “And for having sought to be a sage such as never was, I am only a madman among the mad...”

So be it. It is the natural outcome of the ardent seeker- to come to awe through a short-circuited intelligence; for to stare into oneself with brutal honesty is to destroy all images and conclusions about what one is, or what one is supposed to be. That is all that is required- the honesty to unflinchingly be one’s true, inconceivable self, despite the perilous, ignominious outcome. One who needs to see external miracles in order to believe in the miraculous, is a hopeless candidate for catastrophic, redemptive awe.


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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