Writing as catharsis

A glimpse

Posted in Philosophy, Poetry, Ranting and rambling by Lachlan R. Dale on March 9, 2012
Each time I’m able to half-glance at the beautiful, life-affirming sunset through a gray cityscape I can’t help but feel a fundamental failure on my behalf to respect and embrace the more meaningful, reverent aspects of our short existence.

Book review: Hermann Hesse – My Belief: Essays on Life and Art

Posted in Book review, Philosophy by Lachlan R. Dale on March 7, 2012

Hermann Hesse - My Belief: Essays on Life and ArtI’ve spent the last six weeks slowly reading through Hermann Hesse’s My Belief; a collection of essays, reviews and letters from the author of Steppenwolf, Siddhartha and Narcissus and Goldmund. I had high expectations for this book having been a huge fan of most of Hesse’s work, and I was not disappointed.

Hesse’s thought gravitates towards the universal and the spiritual. Each letter and essay delves into some of the deepest realms of human thought – the quest self-knowledge, psychology, mysticism, religion (Buddhism, Zen, Hinduism, Christianity), war, and, the ebb and flow of civilisations past and present, and the role of art and the poet in society. Each piece in this book must be given the mental space required for full appreciatons and consideration of the subject.

After carefully reading through this collection for the first time, I feel I am intellectually a richer person. Here the tantalising undercurrent of philosophy and the quest for self-knowledge that is so prevalant in Hesse’s fiction is laid bare. Hesse open talks about his experiences, his books and, important importantly, his intellectual and spiritual passions. Through his series of reviews, I’ve also added a number of new books to my reading list.

I feel I have been given a privileged glance in to the mind of this brilliant man, and I only wish there were still more for me to devour. Highly recommended.

Existentialism on the eve of an appropriated Pagan holiday

Posted in Philosophy, Ranting and rambling by Lachlan R. Dale on March 6, 2012

“What is the objective goal of existence?”

This question alone has preoccupied the minds of innumerable philosophers. For the certain type of individual who values truth and seeks deeper meaning beyond the shallow societal fabric with which he is presented, this question demands an answer; this question is not one of triviality or irrelevance, but rather the very foundation from which all life flows.

The objective of existence may simply be existence itself. William Blake once encapsulated this idea in a simple statement: ‘Life delights in life’. By contrast to demand of the universe a specific purpose to guide your path through life – as if this were some sort of goal-driven ‘achievement’ one has to ascertain – seems foolish, naïve and wholly centered on the pampered demands of the ego.

If the object of living is to live, perhaps then one should demand of oneself a certain commitment to that end.

What enhances the quality of living? I would argue that this is not a mere matter of wealth and comfort. I believe that the human organism knows things only in terms of their relative – we can only know true happiness if we’re scraped the depths of darkest despair; we can only appreciate true comfort after sleepless nights in the hostile desert air.

How then, does that pertain to an effort to live? I believe that the quality of living is indicated by the intensity and variety of experiences that one has. Again, this requires an individual to take risks and to expose themselves to loss and hardship – but it is also the basis of a creed of delighting in the beautiful potentiality of existence.

What is clear from this perspective is that concepts such as paying back a 30-term property loan is fundamentally incompatible with (or, at best, neutral towards) this aforementioned goal. I need to make a stronger commitment to minimising biding ties (largely financial debt and dependence) in order to thrust myself further into the jaws of experience, and away from the comfortable lifestyle I have been handed.