Our Directing Mind

Imlac's Journal

Marcus Aurelius’ spiritual diary, which has come down to us in fragmentary form, is sometimes obscure, often terse, and occasionally repetitious. But it contains enough astute observations on the human condition to ensure its enduring popularity. Recently I jotted down some insights from The Meditations.

«It is human to love even those who falter, and you will do so if you reflect that people are akin, that they do wrong through ignorance and unwillingly, that you will both be dead in a little while, and, above all, that he has done you no injury, for he did not make your directing mind worse than it was before» (VII.22).

I find myself examining this passage on many levels. There is its humility and charity which, while not absent in the pre-Christian West, was nevertheless something of a rarity. Socrates was one of the first Greek thinkers to espouse something like…

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The Last Pagan Emperor

«It is interesting that at this stage of imperial culture many pagans had reached a modus vivendi with their Christian neighbors. Libanius, the famous polytheist teacher, was friends with Julian; nevertheless, he had occasion to defend some “Galileans” against the emperor’s oppressive measures. Ricciotti makes it clear that Julian’s last-ditch attempt to revive paganism was doomed not only from the point of view of an ascendant Christianity. Many pagans were frankly bemused by his attempt to create a pagan hierarchy with a strict moral code and liturgy—a sort of mirror image of his monotheistic rivals.

Nor was Julian a pagan in the mold of the Stoics or the high-minded Plotinus, the late neo-Platonic metaphysician. Rather, he adopted the crudest forms of frenzied and superstitious worship practiced by the popular mystery cults of Mithras and other deities. To his credit he was brave, hardworking and something of a reformer. As newly appointed Caesar in Gaul, he was successful in reducing the tax burden, eliminating corrupt administrators and defeating hitherto successful Germanic invaders. It is hard not to sympathize with him as he contended with the scheming of his vicious, nominally Christian, cousin Constantius II. Julian’s attempt to conquer Persia (which ended in his death) was a brilliant failure. «

Imlac's Journal

Abbot Giueseppe Ricciotti’s fascinating study of the last pagan emperor, popularly known as “Julian the Apostate” (331-363), is well worth reading. The book was first published in 1960, and later reissued as a paperback. According to a contemporary Kirkus Review:

It is a «critical narration» that aims «to display in equal light… [Julian’s] many laudable qualities and his numerous defects».… Original sources are cited and quoted from…. The personality of the Emperor Julian and the theological and historical background of his life are fascinating as seen through the author’s vivid reconstructions.

The author ably conveys the nuances and paradoxes of this tragic, and rather pathetic, figure. Julian was physically strong—he could endure the regimen of soldiers on campaign—but he was also awkward looking, frequently referred to by detractors as an “ape” and a “nanny goat” (because of his pointed beard). Morally he was quite austere, at least in…

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*** Cквозь пары лебедейна занавесках-простынкахпроступает одинокая ночь.  ***  Ставила рингтономэтот трек на твои звонки:"Космический ветер"…  ***  Запахи, зовущие за пределы:дыма от костра;чернил;домашней стряпни из детства  ***  В родстве друг с другом: гудок поезда;крики перелётных птиц;блюзовое соло на губной гармошке;грохот проезжающего товарняка.

Coffee Ceremony

Rest yourself traveller in a gas station coffee corner in between some lost worlds. Perhaps after a few sips of coffee from a paper cup the miscellaneous memories of your lasting journey will begin to percolate up.  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com Things That Arouse a Fond Memory of the Past Dried  hollyhock. To find … Читать далее Coffee Ceremony

Mid-Autumn Full Moon II: 月满西楼/Full moon over the west chamber by 李清照/Li QingZhao

«For Mum, Li QingZhao was the historical role model all modern women can look to, especially during the fiery women’s Lib movement of the 60s and 70s which Mum was a part of. The emancipation that comes from an education, the freedom to choose and love; all these were not just issues facing modern Asian women, Mum used to argue, Li QingZhao in 11th century Song dynasty China faced down all these challenges and was already a prime example of liberation and triumph over conventions.

Mum used to wax lyrical about 李清照/Li QingZhao’s poems, and especially how the love between Li QingZhao and her husband, as well as their shared love for literature and their precious collection of etchings of ancient epigraphs, was the kind of love and relationship she dreamed of as a young girl.
…I will always remember Mum’s lesson on Alliteration, using Li QingZhao’s magnificent treatise to Melancholy
…poem, on the full moon theme, the sad and sorrowful 月满西楼/Full moon over the west chamber, sung to a modern tune:
…月满西楼/Full moon over the west chamber:
…(To the tune of ) 《A stalk of plum blossoms》
Scent of the red lotus wilting, jade-green mat feeling autumn chill,
I slowly loosen my silk robe, and boarded the (ornamental) boat alone.
Who is it that sends a (precious) brocaded letter from across the clouds?
Wild geese returning (flying in their 字 formation, bearing news), the full moon fills the west chamber.
…Here is a youku video of the same poem-song, with images of Li QingZhao-inspired paintings which portray the poetess’ melancholic dignity even more poignantly.
…The creator lovingly painted his/her impression of Li QingZhao’s poem above, and set it to the same song but sung by a different singer. Very well done. Exquisite.»

Late Monsoons...

李清照/Li QingZhao, the very talented Song dynasty poetess; Mum’s favourite classical poetess and her ideal heroine.
English wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Qingzhao
Chinese baidu: http://baike.baidu.com/view/3066.htm

For Mum, Li QingZhao was the historical role model all modern women can look to, especially during the fiery women’s Lib movement of the 60s and 70s which Mum was a part of. The emancipation that comes from an education, the freedom to choose and love; all these were not just issues facing modern Asian women, Mum used to argue, Li QingZhao in 11th century Song dynasty China faced down all these challenges and was already a prime example of liberation and triumph over conventions.

Mum used to wax lyrical about 李清照/Li QingZhao’s poems, and especially how the love between Li QingZhao and her husband, as well as their shared love for literature and their precious collection of etchings of ancient epigraphs, was the kind of love and…

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