Eternal Recommencing

In religion as in magic periodicity means, above all, the endless use of a mythical time brought again to the present day. All rituals have the property of happening now, at this moment. The time that saw the event, repeated or commented on by some ritual, is made present, “represented”, if we can say so, no matter how old in time it is imagined.

clepsidra The sufferings of Crist, his death and resurrection are not just commemorated during the religious service in the Holy Week, but they are actually happening, then, in front of the eyes of believers.

And a true Christian must feel contemporary with those transhistorical events because, repeating themselves, theophane time becomes present to him.

The beliefs in a cyclical time, in an eternal return, in dsstroying the Universe and humanity as the preface of a new Universe and a new  “regenerated” humanity, all these beliefs attest, fist of all, the faith and hope of a periodic regeneration of time elapsed, of history.

In fact, that cycle is a Big Year, to resume a very familiar term in Greek-Oriental terminology. The Big Year began with a Creation and ended with Chaos, that is, by a complete merger of all elements. What interests us here, above all, is the hope in a total regeneration of time, obvious hope in all myths and doctrines involving cosmic cycles.

We meet in man at all levels the same desire to suppress the profane time and to live in sacred time. Moreover, we are in front of a desire and an expectation to regenerate time in its totality, that is, to be able to live “humanely”, “historicaly” in eternity by transfiguring time in the eternal moment.

This nostalgia of eternity is similar to paradise nostalgia. The desire to live permanently and spontaneously in a sacred space corresponds to the desire to live forever in eternity, due to the repetition of the archetypal gestures.

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The repetition of the archetypes highlights the paradoxical desire to achieve an ideal form (archetypal) in the very state of human existence, to find us in time without enduring the burden, that is, without suffering its irreversibility.

Such a desire cannot be interpreted as a “spiritualist” one, because the terrestrial existence with everything that it implies would be devalued to the benefit of the spirituality detached from the world. On the contrary, what we could call the nostalgia of eternity proves that man aspires to a concrete and believes that getting this paradise is possible here on the earth and now, at the present moment.

In this sense archaic myths and rituals about sacred space and time can be considered nostalgic memories of a terrestrial paradise and of some kind of  “experimental” eternity that man thinks he can get.

from Mircea Eliade, Tratat de istoria religiilor

 

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The Phoenix Bird

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In monumental effigies, in stone pyramids and mummies the Egyptians sought eternity; it is understandble that the myth of an immortal bird that periodically is reborn appeared in Egypt, even if the later elaboration is the work of the Greeks and the Romans.

Ermon wrote that in the mythology of Heliopolis the Phoenix (benu) is the patron saint of jubilee holydays or long periods. Herodotus, in a frgament, suspiciously told the first form of the legend:

“There is another sacred bird I have seen only in pictures and whose name is Phoenix. Indeed, it is rarely seen and comes to Egypt only once every five hundred years, namely when its father dies. If in terms of size and shape it is as it appears described, its size and appearance are very similar to those of the eagle and its feathers are golden in red. The miracles that are being told about it are amazing, although in my opinion they are not too credible.”

After five hundred years, Tacitus and Pliny resumed history; the first one rightly remarked that any old narrative is obscure, but that tradition has established the life of the bird at 1,461 yars. The second one also researched Phoenix’s chronology: the bird lives a platonic year, that is the period when the sun, the moon and the five planets return to their original position. In the “Dialogue on Oratory” Tacitus specified that this period covers 12,994 ordinary years.

The ancients belived that after this giant astronomical cycle universal history is repeated in all its details; the Phoenix bird would thus become a mirror or a picture of the universe. In an even greater analogy, the stoics have shown that the universe is perishing in the fire and then rebirth, and that this process will not end and that it didn’t even have a beginning.

from Jorge Luis Borges, El Ave Fénix

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Albert Camus – Philosopher of Absurdity and Revolt

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Albert Camus

The Camus family, of Alsatian origin, moved to Algeria in 1871. Here, in Mondovi, Albert Camus was born on November 7, 1913, as the son of wine-maker Lucien Camus, who died soon of the injuries suffered in the Battle of Marna.

Camus’s childhood was sad and full of poverty and lived in an environment of poor and sick people living in a peripheral neighborhood of Algires, where his mother soon moved after her husband’s death.

During the school years Camus read with interest the work of Marcel Proust. He studied philosophy at the University of Algeiers, but at the same time he had to work to live.

After the invasion of France by Nazi Germany, Camus entered the Resistance, and in 1943 his resistance group moved to Paris. After war Camus traveled to North America, South America, Algeria and Italy.

Albert Camus is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957. He died in 1960 in a car accident.

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Camus’s book, The Myth of Sisyphus, belongs to the philosophy of the absurd. Sisyphus, a character of Greek-Latin mythology, has been condmned to always roll a boulder to the top of a mountain, boulder that  then rolls back to the valley, symbolizing the tragic existance of man. Between man and society, on the one hand, and between man and the universe on the other hand, there is an abyss that can’t be crossed. Man was not destined for the perfection to which he tends without ceasing, but for the misery of everyday life.

However, life must be lived, and man has found in the tragedy of his existance a way to face the absurd. Moreover, “Sisyphus find in his eternal torture the feeling of dignity, for although he was condemned to defeat, he doesn’t abandon but defy his destiny”.

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The Stranger is the literary transposition of ideas from The Myth of Sisyphus. The hero of the novel, Meursault, tells first seemingly meaningless occurrences, but which have decisively marked his existance. He’s not an exuberant, but an internalized. At the funeral of his mother he didn’t cry, and being asked if he loved his mother he was silent. The charcter seems to be an aboulic man. But one day on the beach being crazy because of the warmth of the sun, he kills an Arab.

“Killing because of the sun” is not a plausible reason for justice and the hero is sentenced to death. During his trial, he was accused of not having loved his mother because he did not cry to her death, which led the judge to consider him a man lacking human feelings.

In the days before execution, Meursault revisits his existance, finding it absurd, meaningless… Life is absurd, and people can not touch the absolute truth during their existance, which is why they will be condemned one day.

Ovidiu Dramba, Literatura universala

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