Book done!

There is nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a book.  You never know for sure if it’s going to work, at least if you don’t write to a safe formula.

At a couple of points I even considered dropping the last story. happily I didn’t because I think it turned out well, not just for itself, but as a way to tie together previous threads.

And now the book is done and off to the publisher, Magic Realist Press.

Here’s the current working title:
THE TAROT OF PERFECTION: EIGHT STORIES

Over the next few week I hope to post a few entries here, on subjects that have come to mind these past days while I was focusing on the book.

For now I thought it would be interesting to put in a passage I ended up having to cut from the final story. That tale, called “Master Matyas,” concerns a boy who becomes a magician because he wants to fly.

He apprentices himself to a mysterious woman named Veil, whom he assumes can tell him the secret of flying if only she will give in to his demands.

The omitted passage comes from a moment when Matyas demands the secret. Here it is:

Matyas said, “I want to fly. I was born for it.”

“No one knows why he was born. Haven’t I taught you that? What is the basis of a magician’s strength?”

“His ignorance.” He closed his eyes briefly and he remembered when she took him to the roof of the tower and they looked Above and Below, where all color vanished into light and into darkness, one as unknowable as the other. He quoted her now. “Knowing ignorance is strength.”

“Exactly.”

“But what of the other part? ‘Ignoring knowledge is sickness.’ There are things that can be known and they should not be ignored. I am sick of sickness. I want what I want.”

“There are three levels of knowledge,” Veil said, “and three levels of sickness and three levels of ignorance. Can you really be sick of sickness if you have not passed through all the levels of knowledge?”

These statements, “Knowing ignorance is strength” and “Ignoring knowledge is sickness,” come from part 71 of the Tao Te Ching, as translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.

I have pondered it many times, and written about it, in particular as two ways of doing Tarot, the way of Ignorance–reacting directly to the pictures–and the way of Knowledge–learning the traditional meanings.

The chapter goes on to say

If one is sick of sickness one is not sick.
The sage is not sick because he is sick of sickness.
Therefore he is not sick.

When I wrote my own passage above, it seemed to me that the idea of three levels of Ignorance, and three levels of Knowledge, and three levels of sickness, came as a purely intuitive leap. Now it strikes me that the lines above imply the idea of three levels of being not sick. This is something to ponder.

Hopefully I will write more about it here later.

Published in: on August 11, 2006 at 4:32 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interesting that there aren’t, at least as far as we know, three levels of health or three levels of happiness.

    Maybe that’s all there is, ignorance and sickness, and all outside of that is shadow.

  2. As you probably know, Buddhists have 32 planes of existence and 26 “heavens” (worlds above this one) that include 6 Desire heavens and 20 Brahmin heavens. I’m hoping to make it to the 4th desire heaven, where the buddhisattvas hang out, so I can meet up with certain of my friends from this life again, but more realistically I’ll probably be lucky to make it to the lowest Desire Heaven, which sounds scary.

    I kinda like the “Desire” part, but in Buddhism, that’s not such a good thing.

  3. Thanks, Callan and Judith, for your comments. It’s interesting how much we humans see existence in terms of levels. People today believe that the “theory” of evolution is a new thing. The fact is, evolution is not a theory, it’s an observable fact. What is theoretical is the means or mechanism of evolution,whether by Darwin’s idea of natural selection, or God’s direction, or any of the many other concepts. Whatever the concept of means, there are always levels.

    The world is clearly very complicated, and most myths of creation show it happening in stages of some kind. The Bible describes it in days that seem very close in the order of things to the scientific fossil record.

    Other myths depict different creations or worlds, as if the Divine needed a few practice runs. Besides being complicated the world is a mess, and so we may learn, for example, that this current version of existence, say, the fourth world, is still tentative, and will fail, to be replaced by a New Improved fifth world. Or, a messiah will emerge (return, if you’re Christian) and bring in a happier world, or remove us from the messy world altogether,lifting us right out of our cars and up into heaven. (When I see cars with a sticket that says “In event of rapture this car will be driverless,” I always wish I was a cop to give the person a ticket for reckless driving.)

  4. The idea of enlightenment as a ladder with many rungs/levels is nice because while we as humans probably won’t achieve it in an embodied state, at least we can compare ladders and show that our ladder to heaven is better than your crappy ladder.

    Seems so much more human to venerate the ladder — the steps, the stages — rather than the destination to which it may lead us.

    After all, why do all those magazines put numbers on the cover to stimulate sales?

    6 Steps To Nirvana
    13 Things You Can Do Now To Be More Holy
    The Top 100 Reasons Their God Is False.

    Revelation made concise and digestable.

    We loves the ladders, because while they are powerful, actually going where they lead is terrifying.

  5. What popped into my mind was a bit more mundane. Sometimes positive change is initiated just at the point when one is “sick of being sick.” Maybe it’s that “hitting bottom” that is spoken of. Wallowing just isn’t fun anymore. And it is based in ignorance, more on what one doesn’t know than what one knows. It’s like, “I don’t know what I want, but I know I don’t want this anymore.”

    Congratulations on finishing the book.🙂

  6. Sophia, I agree with you, that is the main way I have tended to interpret “If one is sick of sickness, one is not sick.” The way we free ourselves from such sicknesses as shame, fear,guilt, addiction, is to become sick of the sickness. And I really like your observation that we have to do it in ignorance because there are not guarantees or promises. It’s not “I am sick of this and will change if something comes along better.” Change comes from being fully sick of sickness, period.

  7. Ladder – Jacob’s ladder? Ascending to heaven as a metaphor for ascending to the highest level of wisdom?

  8. The thing that i find most interesting about Jacob’s dream of the ladder (besides that angels are using a ladder instead of flying) is that the beings go both up and down. What are their purposes? What are they doing? In the occult tradition the idea of going up and down refers to what are called evolution and devolution, that is, spirit separating from matter and entering matter. In shamanic traditions, ladders represent the shaman’s ascent to the spirit world during trance. But in Jacob’s case he simply witnesses the spirit beings on their unknown errands.

    In some recent stories I’ve developed the idea of what I call “the ladder of stories,” a literal (if dream) ladder in which each rung is a story.

  9. Very very Nice site. Hello and congratulations from Spain


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