I've wondered why it took us so long to catch on. We saw it, and yet we didn't see it. Or rather we were trained not to see it. Conned perhaps into thinking that the real action was metropolitan and all this was just boring hinterland. It was a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away. I'm looking for the truth." And so it goes away. Puzzling.
Robert M. Pirsig
Mr. Tulliver did not willingly write a letter, and found the relation between spoken and written language, briefly known as spelling, one of the most puzzling things in this puzzling world. Nevertheless, like all fervid writing, the task was done in less time than usual, and if the spelling differed from Mrs. Glegg's, - why, she belonged, like himself, to a generation with whom spelling was a matter of private judgment.
I use doodling for a variety of reasons: I use it to get clarity around a concept, I use it to relax, I use it to communicate ideas with others and get their refinement of them, I use it to map complex systems for companies, I use it to run innovation games for business, I use it to get insight on something puzzling me.
To refer even in passing to unpublished or struggling authors and their problems is to put oneself at some risk, so I will say here and now that any unsolicited manuscripts or typescripts sent to me will be destroyed unread. You must make your way yourself. Why you should be so set on the nearly always disappointing profession is a puzzling question.
Everybody is not going to be squeaky clean. All the guys they are giving these marketing endorsement deals are the ones going out there getting in trouble. That is what is really puzzling to me. They will take a chance on the so-called "good image guy" and they are the ones that go out there and screw it all up. You have not seen my face go across the screen for any off the field problems, period.
The test of a theory is its ability to cope with all the relevant phenomena, not its a priori 'reasonableness'. The latter would have proved a poor guide in the development of science, which often makes progress by its encounter with the totally unexpected and initially extremely puzzling.
She said she'd often wondered why she wanted to do some things and not do other things at all. Well, it was obvious with some things, but for others, there was no reason there. She'd spent a long time puzzling it out, then she thought that what you'd done in a past life you didn't need to do again, and what you had to do in the future, you wouldn't be ready to do now.
Wittgenstein imagined that the philosopher was like a therapist whose task was to put problems finally to rest, and to cure us ofbeing bewitched by them. So we are told to stop, to shut off lines of inquiry, not to find things puzzling nor to seek explanations. This is intellectual suicide.
In my own experience, contacts with the big world outside the typewriter are puzzling and terrifying; I don't think I like reality very much. Principally, I don't understand people outside; people in books are sensible and reasonable, but outside there is no predicting what they will do.
Oddly then, in our search for meaning, we often assign victims too much blame for their assaults, and offenders too little. Our inconsistencies do not seem to trouble us, but they are truly puzzling. After all, if the offender is not to blame for his behavior, why would the victim be, no matter what she did our didn't do? Our views make sense, however, if you think that we are trying to reassure ourselves that we are not helpless and, that, in any case, no one is out to get us.
Anna C. Salter
Money is a mystery. Not only is our behavior with respect to money sometimes puzzling and erratic, but our feelings about money are often contradictory, illogical, deep-rooted, and scarcely known even to our most secret selves. We are getting better at handling money, but what it means to us, how we use it to express ourselves, and how it can help us become all that we are meant to be remain murky issues.
After a lifetime in this subject, I have concluded that the extraterrestrial hypothesis is one reasonable tentative approach to putting the best-documented and most puzzling UFO reports into a scientifically defensible conceptual framework. By such reports I mean those with credible multiple or independent witnesses, instrumented observations, and physical evidence.
Few generals were as brilliant as Robert E. Lee and few battles as titanic -- and puzzling -- as Gettysburg. Why did Lee fail? In Lost Triumph, Tom Carhart offers a bold and provocative new assessment. Agree or disagree, it is sure to stimulate debate among even the most seasoned Civil War buffs.
Most investors are pretty smart. Yet most investors also remain heavily invested in actively managed stock funds. This is puzzling. The temptation, of course, is to dismiss these folks as ignorant fools. But I suspect these folks know the odds are stacked against them, and yet they are more than happy to take their chances.
Indeed, it is that ambiguity and ambivalence which often is so puzzling in women--the quality of shifting from child to woman, theseeming helplessness one moment and the utter self-reliance the next that baffle us, that seem most difficult to understand. These are the qualities that make her a mystery, the qualities that provoked Freud to complain, "What does a woman want?
Lillian B. Rubin
The daily clinical experience of thousands of massage therapists, physical therapists, and physicians strongly indicates that most of our common aches and pains - and many other puzzling physical complaints - are actually caused by trigger points, or small contraction knots, in the muscles of the body.
Sometimes I am puzzling over something for months and months and the poem gets created in small bursts and rewritten a hundred times, and chopped up and put back together, etc. Occasionally, though rarely, a poem just plops out of my head fully-formed. But always it is a blueprint of what my brain is trying to navigate at that moment.
The evenings grew longer; kitchen windows stayed open after dinner and peepers could be heard in the marsh. Isabelle, stepping out to sweep her porch steps, felt absolutely certain that some wonderful change was arriving in her life. The strength of this belief was puzzling; what she was feeling, she decided, was really the presence of God.
It is not easy to convey, unless one has experienced it, the dramatic feeling of sudden enlightenment that floods the mind when the right idea finally clicks into place. One immediately sees how many previously puzzling facts are neatly explained by the new hypothesis. One could kick oneself for not having the idea earlier, it now seems so obvious. Yet before, everything was in a fog.
When common sense sees a puzzling phenomenon it looks for a causal agent. When it sees organization it looks for an organizer. This works amazingly well for purposes ranging from the diagnosis of diseases to the creation of governments. But it cannot account for emergence ... the appearance of complex phenomena not predictable from the basic elements and processes alone.
We must come to the Bible with the purpose of self-exposure consciously in mind. I suspect not many people make more than a token stab in that direction. It's extremely hard work. It makes Bible study alternately convicting and reassuring, painful and soothing, puzzling and calming, and sometimes dull - but not for long if our purpose is to see ourselves better.
There is seemingly so little love shared in this world, it is not surprising that we ask, "Where have all the lovers gone?" Since love is the most vital energy for good that is within our power to utilize, it is puzzling why we so seldom do so. Love is just a useless, abstract idea until we put it into action...unless we are always actively living in love, we are not utilizing the greatest gift we have been given and which we, in turn, have to offer....
Ohm (a distinguished mathematician, be it noted) brought into order a host of puzzling facts connecting electromotive force and electric current in conductors, which all previous electricians had only succeeded in loosely binding together qualitatively under some rather vague statements. Even as late as 20 years ago, "quantity" and "tension" were much used by men who did not fully appreciate Ohm's law.
From this, one can make a deduction which is quite certainly the ultimate truth of jigsaw puzzles: despite appearances, puzzling is not a solitary game: every move the puzzler makes, the puzzlemaker has made before; every piece the puzzler picks up, and picks up again, and studies and strokes, every combination he tries, and tries a second time, every blunder and every insight, each hope and each discouragement have all been designed, calculated, and decided by the other.
It's a wonderful thing to be able to create your own world whenever you want to. Writing is very pleasurable, very seductive, and very therapeutic. Time passes very fast when I'm writing-really fast. I'm puzzling over something, and time just flies by. It's an exhilarating feeling. How bad can it be? It's sitting alone with fictional characters. You're escaping from the world in your own way and that's fine. Why not?
I spent the afternoon musing on Life. If you come to think of it, what a queer thing Life is! So unlike anything else, don't you know, if you see what I mean. At any moment you may be strolling peacefully along, and all the time Life's waiting around the corner to fetch you one. You can't tell when you may be going to get it. It's all dashed puzzling. Here was poor old George, as well-meaning a fellow as every stepped, getting swatted all over the ring by the hand of Fate. Why? That's what I asked myself. Just Life, don't you know. That's all there was about it.
For if every true love affair can feel like a journey to a foreign country, where you can't quite speak the language, and you don't know where you're going, and you're pulled ever deeper into the inviting darkness, every trip to a foreign country can be a love affair, where you're left puzzling over who you are and whom you've fallen in love with.
Why didn't you dare it before? he asked harshly. When I hadn't a job? When I was starving? When I was just as I am now, as a man, as an artist, the same Martin Eden? That's the question. I've been asking myself for many a day. My brain is the same old brain. And what is puzzling me is why they want me now. Surely they don't want me for myself, for myself the same olf self they did not want. They must want me for something else, for something that is outside of me, for something that is not I. Shall I tell you what that something is? It is for the recognition I have recieved. That recognition is not I. Then again for the money I have earned and am earnin. But money is not I. And is it for the recognition and money, that you now want me?
From my student days I found him a compelling and fascinating, though often puzzling, figure. It's a lifelong fascination now and I don't expect that to stop! His vision of God, God's faithfulness, God's purposes and so on is so much bigger and richer than almost any subsequent Christian thinker has ever managed. In addition, I have always loved ancient history, especially the history of the early Roman empire, and of course Paul fits right into that.
N. T. Wright
Well, God be with you, ' she said as she finally left him. 'I'm sure He is, ' he replied. She gave a start. 'Are you certain of that?' 'He has every reason to be. Obviously He's Lord over all Creation, but it can't be anything special to be god of animals and mountains. It's really us human beings that make Him what He is. So why shouldn't He be with us?' Having delivered this impressive speech, Rolandsen looked rather pleased with himself. The curate's wife would be puzzling over him as she walked home. Ha-ha, it was not so surprising that the little dome resting on his shoulders should have made such a great invention after all! But now the cognac had arrived.
When I first began examining the global-warming scare, I found nothing more puzzling than the way officially approved scientists kept on being shown to have finagled their data, as in that ludicrous "hockey stick" graph, pretending to prove that the world had suddenly become much hotter than at any time in 1,000 years. Any theory needing to rely so consistently on fudging the evidence, I concluded, must be looked on not as science at all, but as simply a rather alarming case study in the aberrations of group psychology.
The young gentlemen who came calling seemed especially puzzling. They sat in their velvet shirts and their leather boots, nibbling burnt cakes and praising Diamond's mind, and all the while their eyes said other things. Now, their eyes said. Now. Then: Patience, patience. 'You are flowers, ' their mouths said, 'You are jewels, you are golden dreams.' Their eyes said: I eat flowers, I burn with dreams, I have a tower without a door in my heart, and I will keep you there...
Patricia A. McKillip
The world is a puzzling place today. All these banks sending us credit cards, with our names on them. Well, we didn't order any credit cards! We don't spend what we don't have. So we just cut them in half and throw them out, just as soon as we open them in the mail. Imagine a bank sending credit cards to two ladies over a hundred years old! What are those folks thinking?
Sarah Louise Delany
On the geometric level, we see certain physical elements repeated endlessly, combined in an almost endless variety of combinations... It is puzzling to realize that the elements, which seem like elementary building blocks, keep varying, and are different every time that they occur .... If the elements are different every time that they occur, evidently then, it cannot be the elements themselves which are repeating in a building or town; these so-called elements cannot be the ultimate "atomic" constituents of space.
It is puzzling to me that otherwise sensitive people develop a real docility about the obvious necessity of eating, at least once a day, in order to stay alive. Often they lose their primal enjoyment of flavors and odors and textures to the point of complete unawareness. And if ever they question this progressive numbing-off, they shrug helplessly in the face of mediocrity everywhere. Bit by bit, hour by hour, they say, we are being forced to accept the not-so-good as the best, since there is little that is even good to compare it with.
M. F. K. Fisher
Over the past eighteen years I have acted as a scientific consultant to the U.S. Air Force on the subject of unidentified flying objects - UFO's. As a consequence of my work on the voluminous air force files and, to a greater extent, of personal investigation of many puzzling cases and interviews with witnesses of good repute, I have long been aware that the subject of UFO's could not be dismissed as mere nonsense.
J. Allen Hynek
The degree of ignorance cannot easily be expressed. We may say, for instance, that nearly two-thirds of them cannot read or write. This but partially expresses the fact. They are ignorant of the world about them, of modern economic organization, of the function of government, of individual worth and possibilities, -of nearly all those things which slavery in self-defence had to keep them from learning. Much that the white boy imbibes from his earliest social atmosphere forms the puzzling problems of the black boy's mature years. America is not another word for Opportunity to all her sons.
W.E.B. Du Bois
What's somewhat puzzling is that Churchill himself knew what the reaction would be to any sort of aerial attack on cities, because in 1938 he said that in a future war British cities would be attacked by bombing, and that the response would be that all men would want to join the fight because they would be so incensed by this cowardly manner of attack. Which is a very natural response: when something drops on you from the air and blows up a bunch of buildings and kills people in their sleep, the reaction is going to be rage, confusion, and a search for something to destroy in retaliation.
In 1975, ... [speaking with Shiing Shen Chern], I told him I had finally learned ... the beauty of fiber-bundle theory and the profound Chern-Weil theorem. I said I found it amazing that gauge fields are exactly connections on fiber bundles, which the mathematicians developed without reference to the physical world. I added, "this is both thrilling and puzzling, since you mathematicians dreamed up these concepts out of nowhere." He immediately protested: "No, no. These concepts were not dreamed up. They were natural and real."
But... ' Horace looked from one familiar face to another. 'How did you come to..?' Before he could finish the question, Will interupted, thinking to clarify matters but only making them more puzzling... 'We were all in Toscana for the treaty signing, ' he began, then corrected himself. 'Well, Evanlyn wasn't. She came later. But, when she did, she told us you were missing, so we all boarded Gundar's ship-you should see it. It's a new design that can sail into the wind. But anyway, that's not important. And just before we left, Selethen decided to join us-what with you being an old comrade in arms and all-and... ' He got no further. Halt, seeing the confusion growing on Horace's face, held up a hand to stop his babbling former apprentice... Will stopped, a little embarrassed as he realized that he had been running off at the mouth.
Guys can smell desperation. It triggers an instinct in them to run far and fast so they aren't around when a woman starts peeling apart her heart. They know she'll ask for help in putting it back together the right way - intact and beating correctly - and they dread the thought of puzzling over layers that they can't understand, let alone rebuild. They'd rather just not get blood on their hands. But sharks are different. They smell the blood of desperation and circle in. They whisper into a girl's ear, "I'll make it better. I'll make you forget all about your pain." Sharks do this by eating your heart, but they never mention this beforehand. That is the thing about sharks.
Schizophrenia --its nature, etiology, and the kind of therapy to use for it--remains one of the most puzzling of the mental illnesses. The theory of schizophrenia presented here is based on communications analysis, and specifically on the Theory of Logical Types. From this theory and from observations of schizophrenic patients is derived a description, and the necessary conditions for, a situation called the "double bind"--a situation in which no matter what a person does, he "can't win." It is hypothesized that a person caught in the double bind may develop schizophrenic symptoms
There is nothing puzzling ... about America's gratuitously aggressive foreign policy or about the oligarchs' successful efforts to drag the Republic into five wars. What an aggressive foreign policy accomplishes by slow degrees, a state of war accomplishes in a trice. Overnight [war] kills reform, overnight it transforms insurgents into traitors and the Republic into an imperiled realm. Overnight it strangles free politics, distracts and overawes the citizenry. Overnight it blasts public hope.
Are you okay with what we ordered?' Angeline asked him. 'You didn't pipe up with any requests.' Neil shook his head, face stoic. He kept his dark hair in a painfully short and efficient haircut. It was the kind of no-nonsense thing the Alchemists would've loved. 'I can't waste time quibbling over trivial things like pepperoni and mushrooms. If you'd gone to my school in Devonshire, you'd understand. For one of my sophomore classes, they left us alone on the moors to fend for ourselves and learn survival skills. Spend three days eating twigs and heather, and you'll learn not to argue about any food coming your way.' Angeline and Jill cooed as though that was the most rugged, manly thing they'd ever heard. Eddie wore an expression that reflected what I felt, puzzling over whether this guy was as serious as he seemed or just some genius with swoon-worthy lines.
Those whose eyes twenty-five and more years before had seen "the glory of the coming of the Lord, " saw in every present hindrance or help a dark fatalism bound to bring all things right in His own good time. The mass of those to whom slavery was a dim recollection of childhood found the world a puzzling thing: it asked little of them, and they answered with little, and yet it ridiculed their offering. Such a paradox they could not understand, and therefore sank into listless indifference, or shiftlessness, or reckless bravado. There were, however, some-such as Josie, Jim, and Ben-to whom War, Hell, and Slavery were but childhood tales, whose young appetites had been whetted to an edge by school and story and half-awakened thought. Ill could they be content, born without and beyond the World. And their weak wings beat against their barriers, -barriers of caste, of youth, of life; at last, in dangerous moments, against everything that opposed even a whim.
W.E.B. Du Bois
As children', wrote Alice Raikes (Mrs. Wilson Fox) in The Times, January 22, 1932, 'we lived in Onslow Square and used to play in the garden behind the houses. Charles Dodgson used to stay with an old uncle there, and walk up and down, his hands behind him, on the strip of lawn. One day, hearing my name, he called me to him saying, "So you are another Alice. I'm very found of Alices. Would you like to come and see something which is rather puzzling?" We followed him into his house which opened, as ours did, upon the garden, into a room full of furniture with a tall mirror standing across one corner.' "Now", he said giving me an orange, "first tell me which hand you have got that in." "The right" I said. "Now", he said, "go and stand before that glass, and tell me which hand the little girl you see there has got it in." After some perplexed contemplation, I said, "The left hand." "Exactly, " he said, "and how do you explain that?" I couldn't explain it, but seeing that some solution was expected, I ventured, "If I was on the other side of the glass, wouldn't the orange still be in my right hand?" I can remember his laugh. "Well done, little Alice, " he said. "The best answer I've heard yet." "I heard no more then, but in after years was told that he said that had given him his first idea for Through the Looking-Glass, a copy of which, together with each of his other books, he regularly sent me.
Now Miss Mapp's social dictatorship among the ladies of Tilling had long been paramount, but every now and then signs of rebellious upheavals showed themselves. By virtue of her commanding personality these had never assumed really serious proportions, for Diva, who was generally the leader in these uprisings, had not the same moral massiveness. But now when Elizabeth was so exceedingly superior, the fumes of Bolshevism mounted swiftly to Diva's head. Moreover, the sight of this puzzling male impersonator, old, wrinkled, and moustached, had kindled to a greater heat her desire to know her and learn what it felt like to be Romeo on the music-hall stage and, after years of that delirious existence, to subside into a bath-chair and Suntrap and Tilling. What a wonderful life!... And behind all this there was a vague notion that Elizabeth had got her information in some clandestine manner and had muddled it. For all her clear-headedness and force Elizabeth did sometimes make a muddle and it would be sweeter than honey and the honeycomb to catch her out. So in a state of brooding resentment Diva went home to lunch and concentrated on how to get even with Elizabeth.
Looking back into childhood is like turning a telescope the wrong way around. Everything appears in miniature, but with a clarity it probably does not deserve; moreover it has become concentrated and stylized, taking shape in symbolism. Thus it is that I sometimes see my infant self as having been set down before a blank slate on which to construct a map or schema of the external world, and as hesitantly beginning to sketch it, with many false starts and much rubbing-out, the anatomy of my universe. Happiness and sorrow, love and friendship, hostility, a sense of guilt and more abstract concepts still, must all find a place somewhere, much as an architect lays out the plan of a house he is designing - hall, dining-room and bedrooms - but must not forget the bathroom. In a child's map, too, some of the rooms are connected by a serving-hatch, while others are sealed off behind baize doors. How can the fragments possibly be combined to make sense? Yet this map or finished diagram, constructed in the course of ten or twelve years' puzzling, refuses to be ignored, and for some time to come will make itself felt as bones through flesh, to emerge as the complex organism which adults think of as their philosophy of life. Presumably it has its origins in both heredity and enviorment. So with heredity I shall begin.
In 1973, Jan Erik Olsson walked into a small bank in Stockholm, Sweden, brandishing a gun, wounding a police officer, and taking three women and one man hostage. During negotiations, Olsson demanded money, a getaway vehicle, and that his friend Clark Olofsson, a man with a long criminal history, be brought to the bank. The police allowed Olofsson to join his friend and together they held the four hostages captive in a bank vault for six days. During their captivity, the hostages at times were attached to snare traps around their necks, likely to kill them in the event that the police attempted to storm the bank. The hostages grew increasingly afraid and hostile toward the authorities trying to win their release and even actively resisted various rescue attempts. Afterward they refused to testify against their captors, and several continued to stay in contact with the hostage takers, who were sent to prison. Their resistance to outside help and their loyalty toward their captors was puzzling, and psychologists began to study the phenomenon in this and other hostage situations. The expression of positive feelings toward the captor and negative feelings toward those on the outside trying to win their release became known as Stockholm syndrome.
In The Sunset Sky The sunset sky dazzling with the golden hues, Taking bow in brilliant sparkle of experience Is it not a climax, of the story so far, that was today? Or is it building anticipation of the night yet to come. Watch the days go, some proud of their accomplishments Some leaving sighs of disappointments, Leaving all in awe of its Amaranthine twists and turns And the fortunate get to see the moon trying to steal the show from setting sun, Oh she is such a show off, isn't she, basking in reflected glory Its magical, the sunset sky, Puzzling, sometimes just like a riddle, Leaving the nature stunned and amazed For it has been filling the canvas whole day with colours And now the sunset threatens to hide them all And in dark all the colours will be same A cue for the wise. Sunset sky has so much to offer, is she not a fine exampleof how uncertain a life can be Often reminding no matter what you planned, there will besome unexpected returns For End has its own brain, its own script Charting its own course So why just the beginning, every moment of the life should be grand, meted with equal passion and fervor She has been so clever; the sunset sky Leaving Twinkling cryptic messages for the night sky For even the dark has sparkle and hope if you keep your head up, A constant reminder that exuberance is an attitude of deep, rich, warm hearts I want my sunset sky to be grand, magical, and full of stories of my life that has been And its memories to linger on in this world, in the tomorrow and a few more years to come
It was The Gospel From Outer Space, by Kilgore Trout. It was about a visitor from outer space... [who] made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low. But the Gospels actually taught this: Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected. So it goes. The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, who didn't look like much, was actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought... : Oh, boy - they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time! And that thought had a brother: "There are right people to lynch." Who? People not well connected. So it goes. The visitor from outer space made a gift to Earth of a new Gospel. In it, Jesus really was a nobody, and a pain in the neck to a lot of people with better connections than he had. He still got to say all the lovely and puzzling things he said in the other Gospels. So the people amused themselves one day by nailing him to a cross and planting the cross in the ground. There couldn't possibly be any repercussions, the lynchers thought. The reader would have to think that too, since the Gospel hammered home again and again what a nobody Jesus was. And then, just before the nobody died, the heavens opened up, and there was thunder and lightning. The voice of God came crashing down. He told the people that he was adopting the bum as his son, giving him the full powers and privileges of the Son of the Creator of the Universe throughout all eternity. God said this: From this moment on, He will punish anybody who torments a bum who has no connections!
The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low. But the Gospels actually taught this: Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected. So it goes. The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, who didn't look like much, was actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought, and Rosewater read out loud again: Oh, boy-they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch _that_ time! And that thought had a brother: 'There are right people to lynch.' Who? People not well connected. So it goes. The visitor from outer space made a gift to the Earth of a new Gospel. In it, Jesus really was a nobody, and a pain in the neck to a lot of people with better connections than he had. He still got to say all the lovely and puzzling things he said in the other Gospels. So the people amused themselves one day by nailing him to a cross and planting the cross in the ground. There couldn't possibly be any repercussions, the lynchers thought. The reader would have to think that, too, since the new Gospel hammered home again and again what a nobody Jesus was. And then, just before the nobody died, the heavens opened up, and there was thunder and lightning. The voice of God came crashing down. He told the people that he was adopting the bum as his son, giving him the full powers and privileges of The Son of the Creator of the Universe throughout all eternity. God said this: From this moment on, He will punish horribly anybody who torments a bum who has no connections.
I have used the theologians and their treatment of apocalypse as a model of what we might expect to find not only in more literary treatments of the same radical fiction, but in the literary treatment of radical fictions in general. The assumptions I have made in doing so I shall try to examine next time. Meanwhile it may be useful to have some kind of summary account of what I've been saying. The main object: is the critical business of making sense of some of the radical ways of making sense of the world. Apocalypse and the related themes are strikingly long-lived; and that is the first thing to say tbout them, although the second is that they change. The Johannine acquires the characteristics of the Sibylline Apocalypse, and develops other subsidiary fictions which, in the course of time, change the laws we prescribe to nature, and specifically to time. Men of all kinds act, as well as reflect, as if this apparently random collocation of opinion and predictions were true. When it appears that it cannot be so, they act as if it were true in a different sense. Had it been otherwise, Virgil could not have been altissimo poeta in a Christian tradition; the Knight Faithful and True could not have appeared in the opening stanzas of "The Faerie Queene". And what is far more puzzling, the City of Apocalypse could not have appeared as a modern Babylon, together with the 'shipmen and merchants who were made rich by her' and by the 'inexplicable splendour' of her 'fine linen, and purple and scarlet, ' in The Waste Land, where we see all these things, as in Revelation, 'come to nought.' Nor is this a matter of literary allusion merely. The Emperor of the Last Days turns up as a Flemish or an Italian peasant, as Queen Elizabeth or as Hitler; the Joachite transition as a Brazilian revolution, or as the Tudor settlement, or as the Third Reich. The apocalyptic types-empire, decadence and renovation, progress and catastrophe-are fed by history and underlie our ways of making sense of the world from where we stand, in the middest.
The greatest book in the world, the Mahabharata, tells us we all have to live and die by our karmic cycle. Thus works the perfect reward-and-punishment, cause-and-effect, code of the universe. We live out in our present life what we wrote out in our last. But the great moral thriller also orders us to rage against karma and its despotic dictates. It teaches us to subvert it. To change it. It tells us we also write out our next lives as we live out our present. The Mahabharata is not a work of religious instruction. It is much greater. It is a work of art. It understands men will always fall in the shifting chasm between the tug of the moral and the lure of the immoral. It is in this shifting space of uncertitude that men become men. Not animals, not gods. It understands truth is relative. That it is defined by context and motive. It encourages the noblest of men - Yudhishtra, Arjuna, Lord Krishna himself - to lie, so that a greater truth may be served. It understands the world is powered by desire. And that desire is an unknowable thing. Desire conjures death, destruction, distress. But also creates love, beauty, art. It is our greatest undoing. And the only reason for all doing. And doing is life. Doing is karma. Thus it forgives even those who desire intemperately. It forgives Duryodhana. The man who desires without pause. The man who precipitates the war to end all wars. It grants him paradise and the admiration of the gods. In the desiring and the doing this most reviled of men fulfils the mandate of man. You must know the world before you are done with it. You must act on desire before you renounce it. There can be no merit in forgoing the not known. The greatest book in the world rescues volition from religion and gives it back to man. Religion is the disciplinarian fantasy of a schoolmaster. The Mahabharata is the joyous song of life of a maestro. In its tales within tales it takes religion for a spin and skins it inside out. Leaves it puzzling over its own poisoned follicles. It gives men the chance to be splendid. Doubt-ridden architects of some small part of their lives. Duryodhanas who can win even as they lose.
Tarun J. Tejpal