As if the Sea should part: A Malady of Magicks    
 A Malady of Magicks1 comment
picture13 Mar 2005 @ 03:31, by Tlingel

Greek anomia, lawlessness,
from anomos, without law.

The word anomie was coined by Emile Durkheim who defined the term as a condition where social and/or moral norms are confused, unclear, or simply not present. Durkheim felt that this lack of norms, or preaccepted limits on behavior in a society, led to deviant behavior [sic].

As beliefs and/or restraints are weakened, humans no longer have limits upon their desires and aspirations. Whereas their goals were previously limited by social norms and religion, the goals now become infinite in scope.

In his staggering study of the work of William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo speaks movingly of this:

"Tout homme a en lui son Pathmos. Il est libre d'aller ou de ne point aller sur cet effrayant promontoire de la pensée d'où l'on aperçoit les ténèbres. S'il n'y va point, il reste dans la vie ordinaire, dans la conscience ordinaire, dans la vertu ordinaire, dans la foi ordinaire, dans le doute ordinaire, et c'est bien. Pour le repos intérieur, c'est évidemment le mieux. S'il va sur cette cime, il est pris. Les profondes vagues du prodige lui sont apparu. Nul ne voit impunément cet océan là... Il s'obstine à cet abîme attirant, à ce sondage de l'inexploré, à ce désintéressement de la terre et de la vie, à cette entrée dans le défendu, à cet effort pour tâter l'impalpable, à ce regard sur l'invisible, il y revient, il y retourne, il s'y accoude, il s'y penche, il y fait un pas, puis deux, et c'est ainsi qu'on pénètre dans l'impénétrable, et c'est ainsi qu'on s'en va dans l'élargissement sans borne de la condition infinie."

According to Durkheim, pursuing the infinite, a goal by definition unattainable, is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness.

The interesting thing is that although sociologists have talked of anomie mostly in conjunction with the study of criminal behavior (i.e. deviance from morality and social norms), clearly the scope it embraces is much greater than that and not all deviant behaviors are the province of criminologists.

Simply put, anyone, who---whether he/she chooses it or not---lives by different paradigms, operates outside of the consensus reality, thus exposes himself/herself to a position of alienation and the risks that come along with it.

To try to think about the world around one in different ways than most people do is one of the factors that sometimes drives fringe dwellers to depression and one of the main reason why, I think, so many explorers, creators, artists or magicians report feeling isolated.

Clearly any deviant path has in it the potential for inducing madness and depression.


"...the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence–whether much that is glorious–whether all that is profound–does not spring from disease of thought–from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect. They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. In their gray visions they obtain glimpses of eternity, and thrill, in awakening..."
---Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora (1850)

But then again:

"The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us."
---Paul Valery, 1895.

Hard to have one without the other.

"Les poètes ont créé une lune métaphorique et les savants une lune algébrique. La lune réelle est entre les deux."
---Victor Hugo, Promontorium Somnii (1864)

I guess, it all comes down to what it means to be human and to the meaning of life---the meaning it has to you, and what you think you want (Do you want material confort? Power? Love? Do you "just want to be happy"? What is enough for you?)

Or as Salvador Dali put it,

"I don't do drugs. I am drugs."

And so is life.

That's what it means to be human.


Illustration: Walter Velez ©

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1 comment

14 Mar 2005 @ 02:48 by jerryvest : Salvador is a cool guy
I suspect that there is more to life than "sex, drugs, rock and roll", but I do love Salvador's art form. Your article brings back some fond memories of my sociology studies and "Anomie." I believe that I reached this high level of despair during the past two elections and must remind myself that there is a beginning, middle and end to disillutionment and to this regime. A metaphor might be the IV of Cups--there is always friendship and love available to us during these times of trials, tribulations, and withdrawl. We just have to awaken and accept these loving energies. My experience has shown me that we are never really alone and separate from creation, except in our often cluttered mind.

Thank you for introducing me to this translation program. It was really fun using these tools. I feel more connected with other languages now that I can translate some of their passages. Nice gift,indeed.


Other entries in
27 Apr 2005 @ 18:56: Chanson des Cloches de Baptême
17 Apr 2005 @ 07:30: There are no questions more urgent than the naive ones *
11 Apr 2005 @ 01:39: We have a soul at times *
3 Apr 2005 @ 22:27: Maps of the Human Heart
23 Mar 2005 @ 08:42: Canticle of the Night
22 Mar 2005 @ 00:24: Night Vision

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