Samizdat

"Samizdat: Publishing the Forbidden."

Borges, Dreams, Nightmares, Metaphysics.

“For the savage and for the child, dreams are episodes of the waking life; for poets and mystics, it is not impossible for all of the waking life to be a dream.

This was said, in a dry and laconic fashion, by Calderón: “life is a dream.” It was said, with an image, by Shakespeare: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.” And splendidly by the Austrian poet Walter von der Vogelweide, who asked, “Ist mein Leben getraäumt oder ist es wahr?” –have I dreamed my life or is it real?

I am not sure. It takes us certainly to solipsism, to the suspicion that there is only one dreamer and that dreamer is every one of us. That dreamer–let us imagine that I am he–is, at this very moment, dreaming you. He is dreaming this room and this lecture. There is only one dreamer, and that dreamer dreams all of the cosmic process, dreams all of the world’s history, dreams everything, including your childhood and your adolescence.

All of this could not have happened; at this moment it begins to exist. He begins to dream and is each one of us–not us, but each one. At this moment I am dreaming that I am giving a lecture on the Calle Charcas, that I am looking for things to say (and perhaps not finding them); I am dreaming you.

But it is not true. Each one of you is dreaming me and the others.”

–Jorge Luis Borges, “Nightmares,” Seven Nights, 1984. Pp. 26-7.

Marduk’s Tower of Babel.

Modern archeology estimates the height of the Tower of Babel, a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk, at 270 feet high. 

–Fred S. Kleiner, Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History, enhanced 13th Edition. 2005, 2009, 2011. “Sumer,” Pg. 33.

Herodotus, 5th Century BCE, described it: “In the middle of the sanctuary [of Marduk] has been built a solid tower……which supports another tower, which in turn supports another, and so on; there are eight towers in all. A stairway has been constructed to wind its way up the outside of all the towers; halfway up the stairway there is a shelter with benches to rest on, where people making the ascent can sit and catch their breath. In the last tower there is a huge temple. The temple contains a large couch, which is adorned with fine coverings and has a golden table standing beside it, but there are no statutes at all standing there…..[The Babylonians] say that the god comes in person to the temple [compare the Sumerian notion of the temple as a “waiting room”] and rests on the couch; I do not believe this story myself.” 

–Herodotus: The Histories, Robin Waterfield, trans., New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 79-80. 

 Quoted in Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, pg. 48. 

Kafka on the Fall.

“The Expulsion from Paradise is eternal in its principal aspect: this makes it irrevocable, and our living in this world inevitable, but the eternal nature of the process has the effect that not only could we remain forever in Paradise, but that we are currently there, whether we know it or not.”

— –Franz Kafka, The Zürau Aphorisms, 2006, pg. 65. 

Robert Graves on Remembering the Future.

“In the poetic act, time is suspended and details of future experience often become incorporated in the poem, as they do in dreams. This explains why the first Muse of the Greek triad was named Mnemosyne, ‘Memory’: one can have memory of the future as well as of the past. Memory of the future is usually called instinct in animals, intuition in human beings.” 

–Robert Graves, The White Goddess, pg. 343

Pythagoras, an initiate of the Orphic Mysteries, and the Transmigration of Souls.

“…Pythagoras was a Pelasgian from Samos who developed his doctrine of the Transmigration of Souls as the result of foreign travel. According to his biographer Porphyrius he went to Crete, the seat of the purest Orphic doctrine, for initiation by the Idaean Dactyls.

They ritually purified him with a thunderbolt, that is to say they made a pretense of killing him with either a meteoric stone or a neolithic axe popularly mistaken for a thunderbolt; after which he lay face-downwards on the sea shore all night covered with black lamb’s wool; then spent ‘three times nine hallowed days and nights in the Idaean Cave’; finally emerged for his initiation.

Presumably he then drank the customary Orphic cup of goat’s milk and honey at dawn (the drink of Cretan Zeus who had been born in that very cave) and was garlanded with white flowers. Porphyrius does not record exactly when all this took place…Pythagorus was reborn at the winter solstice festival as an incarnation of Zeus….and went through the usual mimetic transformation: bull, hawk, woman, lion, fish, serpent, etc.” 

–Robert Graves, The White Goddess, pp. 282-3.

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