The Spark of the Divine

This topic contains 7 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Clement 1 month ago.

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Author
    Posts Mark Topic Read  | 
  • 17 Dec 2013 at 10:47 am #4883

    Richard L.
    Member

    I’d like to use this thread to discuss “the spark of the alien divine” as interpreted in Cormac McCarthy’s BLOOD MERIDIAN, much discussed in the wealth of extant crit-lit (see THEY RODE ON, ed. by Rick Wallach), with some additions and annotations from other literature and expanded into cosmology.

    The idea is that the divine in man is alien here in this dark material world, but the intertextuality broadens that a bit, as in the we-carry-the-fire of THE ROAD.

    This is from my recent reading of Irvin D. Yalom’s THE SHOPENHAUER CURE:

    “Last night I read something interesting, a passage in Nabokov’s memoir, SPEAK, MEMORY, which described life as a spark between two identical pools of darkness, the darkness before we were born and the darkness after we die. And how odd it is that we have so much concern about the latter and so little about the former.”

    “. . .Schopenhauer said that after death we will be what we were before our birth and then proceeded to prove the impossibility of there being more than one kind of nothingness.”

    I don’t agree that there is only one kind of nothingness.

    Lawrence M. Krauss (A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, 2012) claimed to have shown why the latest physics proves that something comes of nothing, but he did nothing of the sort. There is the zero nothingness which is actually something because it exists as a potential or as a net result with a history, depending upon the entire system of mathematics (if not other universals). The other type of nothingness has the zero removed, along with all universal laws, including mathematics.

    An empty void with the algorithm for something, as Krauss’s theory puts forward, depends on the zero. And perhaps, as Roger Penrose has argued (Consciousness and the Universe: Quantum Physics, Evolution, Brain & Mind, 2012) it depends on an observer consciousness as well.


      Quote
    18 Dec 2013 at 7:11 am #4885

    Richard L.
    Member

    A quote from an essay by Petra Mundik, collected in THEY RODE ON:

    “It is worth mentioning that the concept of the divine spark constitues a running theme throughout Blood Meridian. Even when the sparks in question are the literal sparks of a campfire, the writing contains metaphysical overtones that point to deeper layers of meaning. Consider, for example, the following description of a dying fire:

    “…the wind blew in the night and and fanned the last smoldering billets and drove forth the last fragile race of sparks fugitive as flintstikings in the unanimous dark of the world…”


      Quote
    18 Dec 2013 at 7:40 pm #4888

    Richard L.
    Member

    “… and they watched the fire which does contain within it something of men themselves inasmuch as they are less without it and are divided from their origins and are exiles. For each fire is all fires, the first fire and the last ever to be.” –BLOOD MERIDIAN


      Quote
    27 Mar 2015 at 9:35 am #6747

    Richard L.
    Member

    I want to quote from scientist Nick Lane’s recent book, POWER, SEX, SUICIDE: MITOCHONDRIA AND THE MEANING OF LIFE. The metaphor of human life being a spark or a flame is something of a universal. Shakespeare’s use of it in MACBETH was recently revived in BIRDMAN, the star falling from the heavens, the “Out, out brief candle” speech.

    “Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, argued that the flame of life was not merely a metaphor, but exactly analogous to a real flame.”

    Nick Lane goes into the body’s workings at the level of mitochondria and says that Lavoisier was indeed chemically correct.


      Quote
    01 Apr 2015 at 1:07 pm #6824

    Richard L.
    Member

    And another thing:

    Given the above, if through some kind of goggles we were to see this combustion at work, at what parts of the body would the flame appear? Not at the biggest muscles as you might suppose, but at the brain:

    “Though it accounts for only 2 percent of the body’s mass, it uses up a fifth of all the oxygen we breathe, and it’s where a quarter of all our glucose gets burned.”

    I read Nancy C. Andreasen’s Understanding Genius: The Neuroscience of Extraordinary Creativity. Undoubtedly a fit at the Santa Fe Institute where she will lecture this summer. She’s an experienced M.D. and a Ph. D., a neuroscientist and she has a degree in literature as well. She says she wants to explain what Ibsen called “the spark of the divine fire.”

    And how those who carry the fire do so.


      Quote
    18 Dec 2017 at 7:05 pm #9971

    Richard L.
    Member

    One of the best books I’ve read this decade has to be Jenny Offill’s DEPT. OF SPECULATION (2014). I love the protaonist’s use of metaphor, including this passage which is pertinent to this thread topic:

    “The baby’s eyes were dark, almost black, and when I nursed her in the middle of the night, she’d stare at me with a stunned, ship-wrecked look as if my body were the island she’s washed up on.

    The Manicheans believed the world was filled with imprisoned light, fragments of a God who destroyed himself because he no longer wished to exist. This light could be found trapped inside man and animals and plants, and the Manichean mission was to try to release it. Because of this, they abstained from sex, viewing babies as fresh prisons of entrapped light.”

    The Manicheans, of course, shared some philosophies with other Gnostic sects.


      Quote
    19 Dec 2017 at 7:27 am #9973

    brent33
    Member

    This idea of a void/nothingness before and after our lives brings to mind the line from The Tempest:

    We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on; and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.


      Quote
    19 Dec 2017 at 9:37 pm #9984

    Clement
    Member

    The Breaking of the Vessels. Lurianic Kabbalah. Six or seven out of the ten Sephirot could not hold the light. They broke, and we pick our way among the shards.


      Quote
Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.