Saturday, February 24, 2007

CONVERSION or else ... what will happen to us?

In concluding “Let This Mind Be in You” tape series on conversion, Gil Bailie admits that in his attempt to weave together all the themes of the earlier sessions he had to leave out 3 pages of connecting-the-dots. I must admit that I would have liked to have had those pages. With the help of the groundbreaking work of Rene Girard, Gil tries to bring clarity to this radical understanding of culture and the person as both are being deconstructed under the weight of the Gospels. Even the thought of this task is not an easy thing to get your arms around.

Some of the major dots used by Gil in the final tape on conversion are:

Friedrich Nietzsche
The Underground Man – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Reveries of The Solitary Walker – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Meister Eckhart
Johann Baptist Metz
Jean-Michel Oughourlian

The Church
Communion of Saints

Curing possession with possession
Manic depression

St. Paul
Blessed Mother Mary
Jesus Christ

I love this series on conversion and each time I revisit it I glean something more. But there is so much to absorb that I could still use more help in connecting the dots. I have tried over and over to find closure on these posts regarding this tape series and frankly I am at a loss. I can only fall to the ground (with the Poor Clares or St. Thérèse) and pray with Mary; Lord, not my will be done, but Your Will be done.
Ecce Ancilla Domini - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

For other posts that the 3 Massketeers have made on Gil Bailie's tape series, Let This Mind be in You follow the links below:
Athos posts here
Athos notes here
Athos notes on tape 9B link here
Aramis notes on tape 5 here
Aramis notes on tape 4 here
Aramis notes on tape 3 here
Aramis notes on tape 2 here
and you can see our first post regarding this tape series by clicking here


Athos said...

I certainly couldn't improve on your wrap up, Aramis. I will only say that I felt led to return to Bailie's Divine Comedy series, and am on tape 2 of The Inferno.

It goes without saying that conversion is at the heart of Dante's work in a profound way.

And, BTW, the spam title of my last post: intentionally and provocatively Freudian ... as much as the buildings themselves are. Such a big building could provide so many little buildings for the least of these God's brothers and sisters.

David Nybakke said...

Dear Athos, I have joined you in Bailie's Divine Comedy series. I just love his way of introducing the series in tape 1 side A.

We start with 2 poems, one a 20th century poem and the other a 13th century poem. The first one is a very short poem by the American poet Louis Simpson.

There is no way out
You were born to waste your life
You were born to this middle-class life
As others before you were born to walk
in procession to the temple singing.

The second poem is from the very beginning of the Divine Comedy, Canto 1 of the Inferno by Dante.

When I had journeyed half of our life’s way
I found myself lost in a dark wood
for I had lost the path that does not stray.

In Dante’s image he talks about journeying half our life’s way – he is using a chronological reference. In the Louis Simpson’s poem he speaks of being trapped in a middle-class life – so he is using a socio-economic reference. But I would like to think that within Dante’s chronological reference that there is at least a hint of a sociological one. And in Simpson’s one of a sociological one there is at least a hint of a chronological one. And that together they might both point to some condition of being stuck or loss in the middle of it all.

And I want to call attention to the phrase that I suggest that we turn into a little mantra;

I found myself lost. I found myself lost. I found myself lost.

As you say this phrase consider inflecting on each of the different words to extract the layers of meaning in it.

I found myself lost. I FOUND myself lost. I found MY-self lost.

I found my-SELF lost. I found MYSELF lost. I found myself LOST.

What is the condition in which I find myself?
How is it that I can find myself?
Where is it that I find myself lost?
That is where, when I find myself, I find my self.

I found myself lost.

And what I found that was lost was my self. And it was lost. And if it was lost, the only place I could find it was where it was lost. It is as though by recognizing our lost-ness we begin the process of finding out who we are and where we are and where we ought to be.

It is not as though he just got lost; what is new is that he has just recognized his lost-ness. And, of course, we have these great strategies, we human beings, for camouflaging the lost-ness or gushing it up in some way so that it doesn’t seem to be lost-ness at all. So we want to avoid these quick, fix-it type answers – we want to probe deeper.

I found myself lost in a dark wood.

… in a dark wood – the Italian is “per una selva oscura”

The American poet Robert Duncan said that the Italian ‘per una selva oscura’, “must have for our English speaking ears the ghost of the word self in ‘selva’. And in this image there comes to mind the echo of the meaning ‘in a darkness of self.”

The Greek word for sin is hamartia and means miss the mark or miss the point. In other words, a life of missing the point is a life in sin. The great American author, Walker Percy has the great phrase that connotes this for him, “falling into the pit of the self.” It is as though the deep paradox of selfhood is not immediately apparent. The deep paradox being that one has to loose your life in order to find it.

I found myself lost - and what I found that was lost was my self and what it was lost in was the self – the pit of the self.