Saturday, April 02, 2011

Suspended in a mystic delirium

Here are some of the questions I have. How content should I aim to be? How discontent? What is the proper balance and how is it to be managed?

How aggressive should I be in seeking out new experiences? In challenging myself? How much should I hope to accomplish?

How fragile should I strive to be? How efficient, how dreamy, how routine? What depth of engagement with others should I hope to achieve? Why have friendships become so difficult?

What is life's richest possible template, and how bad should I feel if it doesn't suit me? Assuming that everyone has their own richest possible template, how do I go about finding my own?

If you could only get to the center of all questions, then the questions themselves would vanish and you'd be left hanging there, suspended in a mystic delirium.

The Saint: The True Story of How One Man's Search for Virtue Led to the Brink of Madness, by Oliver Broudy, raises these questions and many, many more. And it's as much the author's meditation on these issues, his dissatisfaction with the statusphere of New York City, as it is the story of a crazy man, a rich man with good intentions, who collects Gandhi memorabilia. With a bit about Gandhi thrown in for good measure.

I connected with this memoir right from the epigraph, which comes from one of my very favourite books (The Razor's Edge, W Somerset Maugham), a passage beginning thusly: "You're not altogether stupid. As a matter of fact, you sound like a very religious man who doesn't believe in God."

Lots of questions. Really good questions.

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