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Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Quotations’ Category

Invocation

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We found last time that invocation is the only way in which a man can get beyond the narrowing of his self-consciousness by his daily tasks. We said that by invocation—the essence of prayer—you can pray sufficiently by just invoking the name of the master of our destinies. I probably mentioned this to you, that the original prayers of mankind have all just been long lists of names, because every one of these names places the person who pronounces them, you see, in the right perspective. If you call God merciful, you need mercy. If you claim Him just, you expect justice. If you claim Him Father, you expect to be His child. So there is no name of any god who does not place the invoker. This is completely lost on modern man because modern man has in his thinking machine—has completely forgotten that thought is very inferior to speech. The real power of the human being is in this—the words that are spoken to him and that he speaks—not in what you think. That’s just all dawn and dusk. If you consider what you have to say out loud to what you think, the only important things are what you say, or what you hear. And what you think is absolutely minor. Now that’s of course against the whole dogma of modern, natural man, who thinks he’s a natural beast, with cleverness, insight. I’ve never seen such an animal. I’ve always felt that all people wake up to alertness and are forced to think, because somebody speaks to them. Then they go home and ponder for special belief. You resent what your father told you, he scolds you. For 24 hours, you only think of justifications why he shouldn’t have said that. And that you call thinking. And on it goes. We all think, gentlemen, after somebody has spoken to us or before we have to speak to somebody. Thinking is nothing but a storage room for speech.

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Comparative Religion, 1954

Written by Scott Moonen

January 16, 2020 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Quotations

Pressure

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If you want to become immortal, gentlemen, don’t yield to pressure. Yielding to pressure makes you into . . . matter. And matter is something to be forgotten. All human beings, gentlemen, who yield to pressure are forgotten. And rightly so. It’s just clay. Who cares? Matter is there to be not a matter. And you don’t matter if you yield to pressure. And the funniest philosophy in this country is that it is clever to yield to pressure. Well, if you want to be powderized, and pulverized, and annihilated, yield to pressure. But it’s a very unpleasant fate expecting you. You become absolutely superfluous. The man who yields to pressure is superfluous because lower life than man does this much better. Rubber yields to pressure much better than you. You can never excel, you see, in the same direction as rubber, or any plastic. So if you want to be a man, gentlemen, don’t look in directions which are not made for you and me. We are meant to sense catastrophes. We are, so to speak, the Geiger counter, if you want to have a modern way. And if we count the catastrophe, we have to do something about it.

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Comparative Religion, 1954

For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands. Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

(Nehemiah 6:9–14 ESV)

Written by Scott Moonen

January 16, 2020 at 8:52 am

Posted in Quotations

Sacrifice

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This is the problem of Christianity, gentlemen. The whole honor of Christ is that He came when the times were fulfilled. And that is the new element of the Christian religion, compared to all other religions. That in Christianity, the criterion of righteousness is that by one man heeding the catastrophe in time, the catastrophe which is inevitable can be turned from a terrible thing into a blessing. The catastrophe, per se, gentlemen, is just terrible and inevitable. By human sacrifice, the catastrophe which is terrible and inevitable can be turned into a blessing. . . . The Christian problem is to recognize which catastrophe is indispensable, and then to go into it by voluntarily stripping yourself of the privileges of the old order, which make the break so much harder if the privileges still stand up.

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Comparative Religion, 1954

Written by Scott Moonen

January 15, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Rhythm and shock

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Organic life must be lived rhythmically. It must get its fulfillment by being treated in the way life must be treated, and life must be treated organically. And that’s what is the main problem of metabolism is rhythm: when to sleep, when to breathe, when to eat. Once you give this to the organism, it is satisfied. Can you see this? Rhythm, gentlemen, is the treatment for the first [sphere] of your own individual existence. If you treat your own body rhythmically, he will get accustomed to everything. A man can live by four hours of sleep. But he has to get the four hours of sleep regularly. Then you can train your body to be satisfied with four hours of sleep, you see. You can eat very little. As you know, the hermits or the ascetics, they can live on next to nothing, if it is given rhythmically, you see. Then you can even train your body through such a thing. But you can’t forget a body. There is even the hermit in the desert; he would go seven miles or eight miles for one cup of water. But he had to stagger along every morning to get this cup of water. That’s the law of his life. He cannot forget this cup of water, even if you reduce all you take in to one cup of water. Because rhythm in our organic existence, gentlemen, is the law. What you put into this rhythm—five meals a day or three meals a day, or one meal a day—that’s up to your training. There you can stretch very much one way or the other.

And you see it with Winston Churchill. I mean, he had to have his cigars. As long as he had his cigars rhythmically, he lives up to 80. It makes no difference, all the stuff with the cigarette and lung cancer. Don’t believe a word of it, I mean.

You know the story of the Scotchman who was famous because he was 95 and still going so strong. So a prohibitionist went to see him and inquire what made him live so long. Of course, it had to be Prohibition. He’d never touched whiskey, you see, a drop of firewater. So the prohibitionist took down notes and said, “No, I never drank — milk and goat milk, specially, and I feel very good.”

“Well, how about your family? Are there other people who live so long in your family?”

“Oh,” he said, “Oh, oh yes. I have a brother who’s 97.”

“Oh, I must see him.”

“You can’t. He’s drunk all the time.”

Don’t believe for one moment gentlemen, that it makes the slightest difference how you live in all these respects, if you live rhythmically. You can be abstemious. And you can be voracious. I don’t believe in any of these stuffs. Once you have seen the freedom of man to move into these five spheres, an organism is mistreated once it is treated mechanically. . . You get a shock each time you cross the red light in New York as a jaywalker. There are too many shocks in modern life. That’s why all these people get cancer. Your whole system is, of course, completely disorganized. Cancer has nothing to do with Mr. Pasteur, and with bacteria, and what all these cancer doctors say and spend money on, gentlemen, you know very well why a person gets cancer: because we live a constantly mechanized life. You think how many times a person today has a slight shock to its physical, very delicate structure. Then you can see that these cells get out of control. Of course they do. Because there are demands made on a person in the modern world which weren’t made on a farmer in the back hills a hundred years ago, you see. There was no constant telephone call and no constant car crossing the road, and no truck pulling up right in front of your own car while you were going at 60, and such things. I don’t see why doctors never consider the difference in the way we live today. We have embraced as worshipers of the Devil, of the iron calf, the steel machine. And the steel machine—as all gods whom we worship, all idols—make their believers suffer. You can take that down, gentlemen. Any god makes his believers pay very highly for his worship. And you, of course, since you do not know that you have this god, you pay even more heavily. All the people who don’t know which god they have, they have Mammon as their god, and their belly. And they die from it. Why shouldn’t they? God is a very exacting magnitude in your life. And you either serve the right god or the wrong god.

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Comparative Religion, 1954

Written by Scott Moonen

January 15, 2020 at 10:14 am

Posted in Quotations

Catastrophe

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Gentlemen, wherever you come in touch with catastrophe, with violent change: fire, earthquake, storm, hurricanes, war, revolution, . . . there the whole of creation and the whole of human society is at stake. And therefore you decide . . . whether you have attachment to the whole of the problem of life, or whether you have singled out yourself a little private religion, . . . a minority religion. That wouldn’t be a world religion. The problem of your belonging . . . is always to be decided, either all men and the whole world or my little world and my little group against the whole world. That is, whether the Russians say they are only interested in Russians, or whether the Americans say they are only interested in Americans, . . . this is always a pseudo-religion, because it decides [that] one man’s poison is the other man’s meat. . . .

Gentlemen, [this sphere of life] always poses the question: is my enemy and myself under the same god, or is my happiness the other man’s unhappiness and vice versa? If you cannot see that it is more important what to Russia and we are now undergoing together than what keeps us apart, then you have no religion. The purely secular statesman says, “I am only interested in weakening the Russians.” If he had one grain of religion, he would know that no secular statesman must ever be allowed to be just secular or to follow his secular policy out, because the Russians and we have something bigger in common. Isn’t that true? This is the question between secular and religious, gentlemen, in [this] sphere. . . .

Perhaps you take this down. It’s quite important. It’s unknown today. The secular mind sees in any catastrophe only the separate interests of those who benefit and those who suffer. The religious mind sees in the suffering itself the great problem: all suffer, or all benefit. So [this sphere of life] poses the problem of the solidarity of the whole human race and the unity of the whole universe. According to your decision in the experience of a catastrophe, gentlemen, you become a pagan or a believer in the living God. Paganism means to answer . . . by a division of loyalty, by a division of interests. If you are a pagan, you say, “What’s good for Rome must be bad for Carthage. Therefore I rejoice that the gods of Rome . . . are favoring us, . . . and the gods of Carthage are weak.” That’s paganism. Now the same is true of capitalism and labor. If labor rejoices because capitalism doesn’t reap any dividends, you see, it’s pagan. If it can see that the golden goose cannot be slaughtered, that the Port of New York must not decay because otherwise there is no longshore union which can benefit by a contract any more, because the exports and imports no longer touch the Port of New York, then you have Christianity, or religion, you see. Can you see? It’s very simple. The secular mind, gentlemen, meets an emergency with its partial interest. The religious mind is forced by the catastrophe to change its own mind. . . . You can take it down this way. The secular mind is that mind which must be changed by catastrophe, or out goes that purpose which the secular mind has tried to defend. There are, of course, idiots who do not want to see the common interest, and prolong the agony. And they are the real devils. . . .

Gentlemen, how do we realize catastrophe? This is a question of all questions. It’s the question of the prophets. It’s the question of Christianity. It’s the question of paganism. The pagan does not want to realize emergency. He wants to deprecate it. And he wants to say, “It won’t be that bad.” That’s your attitude. The Jew, the prophetic Jew, the messianic Jew, that is, the believing Jew has brought into the world the tremendous power of sensing catastrophe, far ahead, of saying, “It smells fishy. This order of things has to go. It won’t last.” And gentlemen, the middle attitude, the Christian attitude is not to sense it in general, but to determine the hour in which we must let go. The Jew has no country of his own for the last 2,000 years, as you know. He didn’t have it in Babylon. That is, the Jew has discarded loyalties in anxiousness to meet the next catastrophe, to be free when the prophetic voice sounds, you see. So the Jew has less loyalties than he could have. The pagan has more than is good for him. The Christian tries to sacrifice the loyalty that has to go now and to persuade his pagan confrères, with whom he is in the same boat, to let go. That is, the Jew is in general disloyal to the order that it is now, because he says, “Somebody has to prepare the future.” The pagans tries to forget the emergency. The Christian tries to persuade or to preach or to enact himself that sacrifice that at this moment is necessary for meeting the emergency.

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Comparative Religion, 1954

Written by Scott Moonen

January 10, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Posted in Quotations

Spirit

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. . . in the tradition of Western philosophy, the capacity for spiritual knowledge has always been understood to mean the power of establishing relations with the whole of reality, with all things existing; that is how it has been defined, and it is conceived as a definition more than as a description. Spirit, it might be said, is not only defined as incorporeal, but as the power and capacity to relate itself to the totality of being. Spirit, in fact, is a capacity for relations of such all-embracing power that its field of relations transcends the frontiers of all and any “environment.” To talk of “environment” where spirit is concerned, is a misunderstanding, for its field of relations is “the world,” and by its very nature it breaks the bounds of any “environment;” it abolishes both adaptation and imprisonment. Therein lies, at one and the same time, the liberating force and the danger inherent in the nature of spirit.

Josef Pieper, The Philosophical Act

Written by Scott Moonen

January 5, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Books, Quotations

Leisure

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No, the contrary of acedia is not the spirit of work in the sense of the work of every day, of earning one’s living; it is man’s happy and cheerful affirmation of his own being, his acquiescence in the world and in God—which is to say love. Love that certainly brings a particular freshness and readiness to work along with it, but that no one with the least experience could conceivably confuse with the tense activity of the fanatical “worker.”

Who would guess, unless he were expressly told so, that Aquinas regarded acedia as a sin against the third commandment? He was in fact so far from considering idleness as the opposite of the ethos of work that he simply interprets it as an offense against the commandment in which we are called upon to have “the peace of the mind of God.” . . .

Idleness, in the old sense of the word, so far from being synonymous with leisure, is more nearly the inner prerequisite which renders leisure impossible: it might be described as the utter absence of leisure, or the very opposite of leisure. Leisure is only possible when a man is at one with himself, when he acquiesces in his own being, whereas the essence of acedia is the refusal to acquiesce in one’s own being. Idleness and the incapacity for leisure correspond with one another. Leisure is the contrary of both.

Leisure, it must be clearly understood, is a mental and spiritual attitude—it is not simply the result of external factors, it is not the inevitable result of spare time, a holiday, a weekend or a vacation. It is, in the first place, an attitude of mind, a condition of the soul, and as such utterly contrary to the ideal of “worker” . . . .

In the foregoing sections leisure was tentatively defined and outlined in its ideal form. It now remains to consider the problem of realizing its “hopes,” of its latent powers of gaining acceptance, and its possible impetus in history. The practical problem involved might be stated thus: Is it possible, from now on, to maintain and defend, or even to reconquer, the right and claims of leisure, in face of the claims of “total labor” that are invading every sphere of life? Leisure, it must be remembered, is not a Sunday afternoon idyll, but the preserve of freedom, of education and culture, and of that undiminished humanity which views the world as a whole. In other words, is it going to be possible to save men from becoming officials and functionaries and “workers” to the exclusion of all else? Can that possibly be done, and if so in what circumstances? There is no doubt of one thing: the world of the “worker” is taking shape with dynamic force—with such a velocity that, rightly or wrongly, one is tempted to speak of demonic force in history. . . .

There is, however, a fact which from the vantage-point we have now reached must be strikingly clear and significant, and it is this: whereas the “total work” State declares all un-useful work “undesirable,” and even expropriates free time in the service of work, there is one Institution in the world which forbids useful activity, and servile work, on particular days, and in this way prepares, as it were, a sphere for a non-proletarian existence.

Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Written by Scott Moonen

January 5, 2020 at 5:15 pm