Passages to Eternity

Passages to Eternity

Passages to EternityAs a philosopher once surmised: talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius, he insisted, hits a target no one else can see. The greatest artists and thinkers are the greatest seers. They do not imagine … only and merely. They study the facts, they think the facts, they feel the facts, until the facts, the acts of faith, the articles of invention, dissolve in the naked light of the hitherto unseen, until fact, faith, and invention fall away like Halloween masks, like swaddling clothes; and then, leaving behind the tricks and the treats, they teach us what to hallow: the nakedness of a newborn joy, perpetually born anew, a joy that can never die, because it never quite knows, but never fails to enjoy, how early it already is, and how young it was always going to be.

All thinking, carried far enough, ends in paradox: trying to think the unthinkable. All feeling, carried far enough, ends in paradox: trying to feel the unfeelable. But one can feel the unthinkable, and think the unfeelable. To do so is to think with one’s feelings and to feel with one’s thoughts. Then, and only then, is it possible to hit a target that no one else can see. To experience deeply (profoundly and creatively) is to think with your feelings and to feel with your thoughts. And there’s a first and last to every thought, to every feeling. To think the first, to feel the first, as if it were the last, and to do so intensely is to know nothingness, to experience death. Yes, this is paradox. To think the last, to feel the last, as if it were the first, and to do so intensely is to experience life, a life that never ends, precisely because – like a box without sides – it is without beginnings and without ends. Yes, this is paradox too.

This book continues the conspiracy of significance, the dialectic of nowhere and now here, that began with The History of Eternity. Read this sequel, Passages to Eternity, and follow, if you will, the destiny of this paradox as it unfolds in the lives of 72 historic individuals, including Rilke, Peirce, Aeschylus, Pythagoras, Wordsworth, Ibsen, Santayana, Wilde, St. Teresa, Melville, Whitman, Beethoven, Godel, Michelangelo, Leibniz, Thucydides, Ovid, Empedocles, Mann, Plato, Borges, St. James, Baudelaire, Bradley, Arendt, Auden, Maistre, T.S. Eliot, Democritus, Bruegel, Unamuno, Flaubert, Girard, Calvino, Holderlin, William James, Tacitus, Jaspers, St. Paul, Pater, Anaximander, Solzhenitsyn, Nicholas of Cusa, Picasso, Joyce, Berlioz, Marcus Aurelius, Tolstoy, Rose, Kant, Tennessee Williams, Amos, Crane, Toynbee, Wharton, Hegel, Cavafy, Schmitt, Celan, Shankara, Heisenberg, Gibbon, Luther, Frost, Anaxagoras, Nabokov, Adorno, Conrad, Naipaul, Euripides, Ramanuja and many others.
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