David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

08 April 2009

M for Me, My, Mind, Mirror, Mired, Marked, Murder, Madness, Monolog (and more...)

Yesterday's image came from an autographed audio LP cover.
Today's is from a film, Fritz Lang's M (1931).

In the previous image the woman before the mirror asks herself:
"What would people say if I let them see the real me?"

In M, the chalk-marked murderer at the end of a pleading monolog reverses this question and addresses it to all who would judge him:
"Who knows what it's like to be me?

An obvious third to recall here is Rene Magritte's widely known Not to be Reproduced (La reproduction interdite), 1937.

Unlike the first two, no formal question accompanies it other than Magritte's clever title and our interrogative self-talk in response.

. . . .

What is chance? By chance, last night I started on the latest Mandala magazine.

In it's opening article, Appearance and Illusion, the late Lama Yeshe (above) suggests another mirror practice :
... If you have realized the reality of non-self-existence, if somebody praises you, prostrates to you and anoints you with perfume while another criticizes you, complains about you or even beats you, you have the space of mind to maintain balance. Why is there space? Have you no mind? Are you out of your mind? Have you lost all feeling? Are you no longer human? Western intellectuals might question me like this. No – you have universal consciousness. What you have lost is the attitude of fanatical, extreme, dualistic grasping. That mind has disappeared.

We lamas have a technique for practicing this kind of detachment. You look at your reflection in a mirror and imagine two people, one hurling insults at the you in the mirror, the other praising and trying to please your reflection as much as possible. As you might expect, the you in the mirror pays attention to neither of them. Now, you’re going to argue that of course the reflection doesn’t respond; it has no mind. There’s no reason for it to be happy or unhappy. But this is not an exercise in logic; this is the lamas’ scientific technique for training our minds to overcome the eight worldly dharmas. Try it out for yourself; you’ll see that it works.

Lama Thubten Yeshe
Extract from Appearance and Illusion, a teaching given at Manjushri Institute, England, August 1977. Published in Mandala : April/June 2009)