Friday, March 27, 2009

Seeing Things As They Are

In what seems like a lifetime ago, I used to spend most of my time with books. One of the great things that has come with my recent move is I am getting re-acquainted with my old friends. As I arranged them on my shelves, I decided to let Shakespeare live next to Cervantes, Freud now hangs with Aquinas, Fitzgerald drinks with Milton, DiLampedusa sips coffee with Pushkin, and Plato chats with Bloom. These are my friends and I visit them often.

One of many reasons why I like books is that there are instances where an author shares his insight into the true nature of things, where he is able to convey reality without pretense, illusion, or delusion. Last night, while reading a book by philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm, I came across the following quote from Paracelcius, a 16th century alchemist and doctor;

"He who knows nothing, loves nothing. He who can do nothing understands nothing. He who understands nothing is worthless. But he who understands also loves, notices, sees...The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love...Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about the grapes."

There are times when you read something and it hits you between the eyes. We all live with our illusions and delusions. We have to otherwise life would be unbearable. However, we do so at the expense of seeing reality for what it is. In many ways our culture encourages escapism and avoidance and efforts to look into the true nature of things are discouraged. There are times we need a shove, to hear things we don't want to hear, to say things we don't want to say, and to feel things we don't want to feel in order to understand, to know, and to realize.

Reality can be an awful, terrible thing, but there are times when understanding can be a relief and when books not only provide insight...but also acceptance.

On another note...based on the reception I received at work this morning and the emails that have trickled in from friends who read my last post "Blown Off," it appears that a response is required...and that will be the subject of tomorrow's posting.

1 comment:

  1. Illusions and delusions are definitely a procrastination from dealing with life. And I know all about procrastination. There's also nothing that deals with illusion and delusion (and procrastion) quite like parenting. Kids are a strong reality check. I love books as well and I used to be a great reader but even though I dont read as much at the moment I love the idea of their being books in life. Also understanding doesn't always come from knowledge or books but from experience and compassion. Having the ability to put yourself into another person footsteps for a moment.