File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 125

Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 16:40:56 +0100
Subject: Re: Mystify me!


It was meant to be a positive statement.  

St Simon was the 'star' of Bunuel's movie Simon of the Desert....


Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

>thank you, I think, for calling me a pagan monk. It seems you meant it
>in a positive way and this is definitely something that I can identify
>with, but I still need to live with it a while longer to see if the
>sandals fit. (I do think there is definitely something monklike about
>Epicurus who was the last great philosophical pagan. His garden was a
>kind of senuous monastery avant le lettre. It is important to recognize
>that the monk is something of a hedonist in the sense that he pursued
>something like the Epicurean ideal of atarxia. Ending the social program
>to uncover the ecstasy underneath requires a kind of discipline.)
>I remember long ago, reading a piece by Thomas Merton, the famous
>Trappist monk who wrote "The Seven Story Mountain." He was talking to
>some Marxists and he made the connection between being a revolutionary
>and being a monk because, as he put it, the goal of both is to overthrow
>the world.
>There is a sense too in which monks are the original slackers, true
>cynics in the classical sense.  They made a complete refusal of the
>world, resisting working in the conventional occupations, not merely
>intellectually, but in the body. They made their refusal in the flesh.
>They were also nomads in the sense that they left the city for the
>desert, the wilderness to find a place outside where civilization no
>longer regulated. Revolution as exodus. This was a time when such
>boundaries applied. Today, the monk must find the desert in the midst of
>the global city, her dark silence amid the white noise.
>Here is the story of St. Simeon Stylites ( from the E.B.) who lived
>between 390 and 459 C.E.  His story sounds to modern ears something that
>simultaneously resembles a hacker, Beckett's siege within a room, a
>radical ecologist taking refuge in a redwood and maybe even the hero of
>Huysman's novel "Au Rebours." 
>There is something of a masochist about the monk with his polymorphous
>sexual tendencies turned inward towards a at-times violent sublimation.
>Perhaps the ultimate lust is the lust for God.  A pagan monk is a
>sublime desiring machine.
>"Saint Simon Stylites - The first of most famous of the Pillar-hermits. 
>After being expelled for his excessive austerities, at thirty years of
>age he built a pillar six feet high on which he took up his abode.  He
>made new pillars higher and higher, till after ten years he reached the
>height of sixty feet. On this pillar he lived for thirty years without
>ever descending.  A railing ran around the capital of the pillar, and a
>ladder enabled his disciples to take him the necessaries of life.  From
>his pillar he preached and exercised a great influence, converting
>numbers of heathen and taking part in ecclesiastical politics."
>It is the last part that amazes me.  He lives on this sixty foot high
>pillar in the desert and still wants to change the politics of the
>church!  Here is the true Kantian enthusiasm!


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