Grendel’s Laundry List: Such Balancing Monsters

What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.

Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers, 1966

Now all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large. To me there is nothing but puerility in a tale in which the human form—and the local human passions and conditions and standards—are depicted as native to other worlds or other universes. To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all…when we cross the line to the boundless and hideous unknown—the shadow-haunted Outside—we must remember to leave our humanity—and terrestrialism at the threshold.

H.P. Lovecraft, letter to Farnsworth Wright, 1927

This sky is unmistakable. Not lurid, not low, not black.
Whatever roams in this air is travelling
Stallions go leap, and rimfire knows,
Lately having escaped three-kinded death
In all the cities of the year
The year was river-throated, with the stare of legend
My father groaned; my mother wept.
Storm and disorder and the giant emotions,
It was much stronger than they said. Noiser.

Muriel Rukeyser, Body Of Waking, 1958

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.  It is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

Donald Rumsfeld, news briefing, 2002

Now reading In The Dust Of This Planet: Horror Of Philosophy, by Eugene Thacker

Grendel’s Laundry List is an irregular but continuing series of readings in texts helpful to an understanding of the Atheology and Theodicy of the Seventh Day Atheist Aztec Baptist Church.

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6 responses to “Grendel’s Laundry List: Such Balancing Monsters

  1. Who’d have thought that Rumsfeld would turn up , hm?

  2. Re Cohen: The last thing one could say of saints is that they are “at home in the world”. As usual with Leonard, the reader/auditor must relax to receive the actual message through the improbable paradoxes. To create
    by metaphor some consanguinity and contiguity of saintly action with land forms goes against the actual nature of saints: they are not merely outside of the material world, but actively opposed to it.
    btw, in twitter popularity contest betwixt Old Testament prophets and
    evolved Christian saints, I prefer the former, despite their psychoses.
    Persons who are trying too hard to be “good” damage mankind even more than persons who are trying to be “right”.

  3. Re Lovecraft: A little bit of self inflation there, H.P. ? I suspect that no matter what “Outside” any person finds himself in, the sum total of what
    he knows of that particular intersection of his personal Venn diagram is to be found entirely within his own skull bone and its nerve networks. Puerility of narrative may indeed be prevalent in humans, but that is the general curse, the nature of limits and the limit of Nature over nurture, a sempiternal verity of our epistemology, and inescapable. Or, we can beat our chests and shout that we have too so escaped.

  4. At home in the world… through a refusal to plant some flag or accept a passport from anyplace else. :)

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