lyef & thymes

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Derivation of Meaning (i've been working construction and need to do some thinking to stay sane. Come along for the ride!)

I sat at the table and reminisced. It was night, and I recalled the paper I wrote in University on Novalis' A Hymn to the Night, and the fictional story that embodied its principles, Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf.

It was a dark time for the intellect, as all of the major philosophies that were evolving in their respective time periods were fairly bleak. Novalis began writing at the turn of the 19th century, and Hesse at the turn of the 20th. Novalis was presented with the emergence of industry, faced a slow death at the hands of Tuburculosis, and was weaned into the world of thought on sour milk. But he saw hope. He saw the world, the visible, the tangible, the momentary, as elements of the day. Day, he believed, was finite, and would pass away, leading to an infinite night. Not a bleak, empty night, like Nietzsche's nihilo. No, the night Novalis wrote of contained meaning, activity, impulse, stimula. But all of the invisible sort. It was a night where the mind was free to follow any path it desired, to understand anything that it imagined fully, as though it was only just thought up for the first time. The meaning was entirely contained in the night, and none was found in the soul's journey into the night.

As I remembered encountering these thoughts for the first time, I can recall the sensation of gratitude (or maybe relief) that before I encountered Novalis I encountered Hesse.

Hermann Hesse's novel Steppenwolf embodied the characteristics of Novalis' night in a fictional person, Harry Haller. No, wait, that's wrong. Hesse's novel embodied something new. It showed how the meaning was not in the elements of the night alone, but that meaning was demonstrated in the journey INTO the night. This was a huge thought at the time, because while every other writer was saying that there was no meaning at all, Hesse was saying that this was not so. He asserted that the was inherent meaning to the individual's exixtence, and that the scope of that meaning could even be witnessed in the journey of pursuit TOWARD that meaning.

Today I sit at a table in the daytime, (literally and figuratively) and I know that all the decisions I make, energy I spend, conversations I have, people I influence, people I am influenced by, each have value, each have meaning. What's more, they help me encounter meaning along the way to finding meaning.

The journey. In as much as we are on the journey, and not yet at the destination, we find meaning here, along the way. If I had finally arrived at whatsoever destination toward which I am headed, then I would have acheived meaning, I would have attained by finality. But the very notion that i am 'along the way' to some great destination signifies that I do not yet know my ultimate meaning. Because I do not know my ultimate meaning, I am open to what changes and surprises may come my way. And there have been many.

When all else is stripped away, I believe that I come from God and am about the business of returning to God. The way has been made, and I am already one with him in Christ, and my life is the enactment, the appropriation of that One-ness. So as I am drawn nearer to meaning I am closer to that great end, the Omega.

As Boethius (or someone and now we attribute it to him) once said "Thou art the Journey, and the Journey's end."


At 12:04 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah life's a journey

as another fictional character once said, (and I probably paraphrase since I'm not entirely sure about the wording) "Best to keep your wits about you-there's no telling where you'll be swept off to."


At 7:33 p.m., Anonymous Mack said...

As a lesser known scholar once said - "Scooby-Doo can Doo-Doo, but Jimmy Carter is smarter."

... For record, I like your blogmysterin' (mark your calendar, I coined it today!)


At 11:10 p.m., Blogger Sgt Steve said...

I think i got it all, but probably not. Anywho, good thoughts eh. So construction is making you insane eh....maybe thats what happened to me ahah ah aha paaaaahahahah

At 7:48 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey so when are you going to put pen to paper and write a book? I've always rekoned you hav profound insights, some wud be cool for the world to view. n

At 8:27 p.m., Blogger Sgt Steve said...

ok, I lied. I don't get it. Its over my head, or I missed something key...


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