to remember at least a few of the things most precious to us

For in this community the past was rarely discussed. I do not mean it was taboo. I mean that it had somehow faded into a mist as dense as that which hung over the marshes. It simply did not occur to these villagers to think about the past—even the recent one. “…Do you suppose there’sContinue reading “to remember at least a few of the things most precious to us”

expect temptation

Two translations of a great piece of advice from Abba Anotny: Antony once told Abba Pambo: “Don’t worry about what was done in the past.” It was not really a matter of recognizing sins, but of recognizing oneself as a sinner. In so doing, one saw one’s true status before God. And that recognition came not soContinue reading “expect temptation”

able to read what has been handed down

A written tradition, when deciphered and read, is to such an extent pure mind that it speaks to us as if in the present. That is why the capacity to read, to understand what is written, is a like a secret art, even a magic that losses and binds us. In it time and spaceContinue reading “able to read what has been handed down”

the present moment is the only possible occasion

The mind is the guardian of memories and fantasies, the past and the future respectively. Memories and fantasies come in two (and only two) varieties: good and bad. This means that all desires (related to keeping good memories and creating good fantasies) and all fears (related to avoiding bad memories and bad fantasies) come withinContinue reading “the present moment is the only possible occasion”

what lies beyond the five senses

It takes little training to doubt what lies beyond the five senses and no effort at all to drop the stern demands of noblesse oblige. (49) …Only Odysseus’ knowledge of the past–his longing for Ithaka, Penelope, and Telemakhos–keeps him alive; and only the responsibility he takes for that knowledge rescues him from Kalypso’s pointless lifeContinue reading “what lies beyond the five senses”

not an object set before us for scientific examination

It is difficult to evaluate the judgments of a past historical period, because we are not “at home” in it to assess its possibilities realistically. But is it any easier to evaluate the judgments of our own? Is it given to us to know our own society more clearly than a past one? Our societyContinue reading “not an object set before us for scientific examination”