Saturday, September 26, 2009

Life - a drama of the visible and the invisible - the art of amazement

The "invisibility of man" has been incisively described by Maurice Nicoll:

We can all see another person's body directly. We see the lips moving, the eyes opening and shutting, the lines of the mouth and face changing, and the body expressing itself as a whole in action. The person himself is invisible...If the invisible side of people were discerned as easily as the visible side, we would live in a new humanity. As we are we live in visible humanity, a humanity of appearances...All our thoughts, emotions, feelings, imagination, reveries, dreams, fantasies are invisible. All that belongs to our scheming, planning, secrets, ambitions, all our hopes, fears, doubts, perplexities, all our affections, speculations, ponderings, vacuities, uncertainties, all our desires, longings, appetites, sensations, our likes, dislikes, aversions, attractions, loves and hates - all are themselves invisible. They constitute "one's self."
Nicoll insists that while all this may appear obvious, it is not at all overt:

It is an extremely difficult thing to grasp...We do not grasp that we are invisible. We do not realize that we are in a world of invisible people. We do not understand that life before all other definitions of it, is a drama of the visible and the invisible. -- Living Time (London, 1952), ch. 1, quoted in Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed, p. 33

What smites us with total amazement is not what we grasp and are able to convey, but that what lies within our reach is beyond our grasp - not the quantitative aspect of nature, but something qualitative. Everything is more than the sum total of its parts. Man is aware of it, but it is beyond description or comprehension.

This is the beginning of all genuine religion. Because of man's astonishment with the world and himself, he recognizes the masterly hand of God. He ponders over the grandeur and sublimity of God. When seeing God as the foundation of all mystery, he starts to feel Him in his bones, in all that he does, feels, thinks and says!

As has been said, the tendency to take everything for granted and the indifference to the sublime is the root of all irreligiosity. It is a way toward the secularization of the world. Religion is a protest against taking things for granted. It is the art of living in amazement. -- Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo

1 comment:

Athos said...

I'm glad you mentioned Schumacher's Guide for the Perplexed. Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful was ubiquitous when I was in college. Very few realized that he was a Distributist in the line with Belloc, Chesterton, and Fr McNabb.

What Guide for the Perplexed does, however, is display in full bloom the magnificent "common sense" of the Catholic faith, truth, reason, and morals that GKC also loved and wrote upon.

I hope all is well with you, brother Aramis. Cheers/blessings