1 July 2008

Letter 2.24

You are right -- occultism is certainly not the right word to describe what I am doing -- but neither is your second guess (mysticism), as you should be finding out from the Letters. Actually, I have never had the slightest interest in the occult (if by that you mean secret messages from the Dead about the Nature of the Beyond and such things), nor in mysticism: whenever I come across such books I find them intolerably boring, and don't recall ever having managed more than a few pages of any such book. Rather, I am, as you suggest I should be, facing the world and its problems -- but, instead of trying to start with everybody else, I'm trying to begin with myself. (Where else can one begin -- or end?) Where I can do some good at least: but all of this business of whether to start with oneself or with others is only a matter of one's basic attitude, for which at best no more than explanation is possible. Here is Kierkegaard's explanation:

'An immediate enthusiast assails the world's ears with his twaddle early and late, always on his feet and arrayed in buskins, he plagues people with his enthusiasms, and he does not notice that what he says does not inspire them, unless they begin to beat him. He is well informed, and the orders are to effect a complete transformation-of the worl'; but there he has heard wrong, for the orders are to effect a complete transformation of himself.' -- Concluding Unscientific Postscript, p. 45.

Perhaps the search for the answer to what life is will go on eternally -- although I don't by any means admit that it must go on eternally -- but that does not mean that everybody is always in some way seeking a re-solution, in some way or other. And better, then, to do so with full awareness of what one is doing -- rather than try to hide the fact of one's search amidst the diversions of the world. Yes, I'm sure you do understand me better than I think. But did this ever occur to you? Perhaps I understand me better than you think.

Yes, I've been getting sporadic news about the astronauts. But what is of greater interest to me was a long article I came across about the boat 'Ra' which Heyerdhal is sailing to Central America from Egypt, and I should very much like to hear any reports you have about that. Heyerdhal sounds like a fine man, and I'm sorry that I never read his earlier books (Kon-tiki and Aku-Aku).

Speaking of books -- would you care to send another shipment? (Strictly up to your own inclinations, and, while welcome, not of major importance.) If so, I would in particular be interested in: 1) the 4-Volume collection of Greek tragedies, which may (or may not) still be available, and 2) anything left by or about Joyce. A few others (in order of desirability): 1) 17 stories by 15 German writers 2) Browning -- selected poems 3) short stories of Mark Twain 4) Modern Japanese literature 5) Partridge -- origins of modern English 6) Faulkner -- Light in August 7) Drew -- Poetry -- a Modern Guide 8) Bergman -- 4 screen plays 9) Melville -- Moby Dick. Or, if you feel like buying anything, next time you go to Hudson's, I understand that some of Heidegger's books are now available in paperback. The only book of his I have is Being and Time, and I should very much like to see anything else he has written.

One old filling (lower right molar) had partially chipped off and had to be repaired, so I'm now going around with clenched jaws trying to wear the repair job down to a comfortable fit: it feels like a bead of food stuck in the tooth.

You will have noticed that I have an ink pen now, acquired rather accidentally, but which is actually very pleasant to write with -- after all those years of ball-point pens. Perhaps it's because of the pen that I've written such a wordy letter.

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