I had never realized this before, but yesterday I got the book Love’s Work via my long pipeline from Miami to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is nowhere – but, if you can pay for it, you can import nearly everything you could want. This includes drugs, of course, like anywhere else – but my drug of choice is literature. And I fancy, in my own modest way, to contribute to this with my blogging – which keeps getting more concise, and harder-hitting all the time. Quite to my satisfaction.
The New York Review has a line of books rescued from being out-of-print, and this is one of those. It too is brief and hard-hitting.
In the Introduction, which I read on the bus home, she quotes from Rilke:
Be ahead of all departures. Sei allem Abschied voran.
Since I am now facing my own departure, I am doing just that. And I have one problem to solve before I go : an all-encompassing hatred of everything. It’s no mystery where I got it from: from my past, of course. It has gradually been dawning on me that this is not so good for me – a conclusion that may seem obvious to you, but was not at all obvious to me.
Above all, I resist the facile solution: that love is the answer to everything. People who preach this are the worst kind: they know nothing of themselves, or hate, or love. Such people taught Sunday-school when I was a toddler. And, thank God, they have gone to their reward.
The author, Gillian Rose, makes a simple, obvious point: that love and hate are the same thing. And she illustrates this copiously with stories from her own Jewish family and friends.
Iain McGilchrist makes the same point in a different way: we have abandoned our integrated, holistic right hemisphere – which handles paradox with no problem, and even thrives on it – in favor of the left, which has to categorize everything, and tear everything down. His book is heavy – literally, you wouldn’t want to drop it on your foot. It will take me forever to finish it.
Rose is dyslexic, which forces her to use her words carefully – McGilchrist, among other things, has been a professor of English, and has the opposite problem: he is too glib in his use of words.
Gilliam Rose’s main point, which I am just beginning to understand, is that death is not nothing - it is a new beginning. The death of everything I see all around me is real enough, and it will soon include me. But it is not the end of the world, we cannot flatter ourselves about that.
I have time for one more quote from her, from the Russian monk Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938:
Keep your mind in hell, and despair not.
Alternative healing, in all its forms, offers to do just the opposite: to keep your mind out of hell – and assign you to Limbo.