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In Defense of Descartes

More and more I seem to be directed again to a path I already visited once but only stayed on for a while. More and more I think I am called to do what I gently leave on the wayside, picking it up only when it is possible, ignoring it when it is impossible. But it has always been there, indeed. More and more . . ..

What does it mean to be called to do something or to be someone? How can I be certain that I am really being called?

I can, for instance, "only" think that I am being called to this vocation or to that love without there really being any call made. I could then be mistaken if I only think I hear myself being called when in reality there is no such call. But to qualify: when I say that I think I am being called, I say so with force and certainty, that is, truly; I do not only imagine it or fancy it, but I judge the call to be true and, most importantly, I make it real.--And what is made real will always supersede what was supposed to be only imagined; what is actualized will always overrule what was supposed to be a mistake.

Initially and for the most part, it is certainty which makes judgments possible. Because I am certain, I can take this eternal vow or seal a love with a promise. But certainty is certain not because what it is certain of is real, or really there in the world, factual; on the contrary, certainty rests solely on the decision of the I. Hence the paradox of certainty: I become certain because I judge what is in question to be certain, or because I will certainty--a great reversal! Even if I am not really being called, I can still take the initiative from my side (the only side that matters here) and decide on my own that what I think is certain is also real, what I believe in my mind is also in the world, and what I think I see is what I see. In a word: that I am called or not is a matter of profound indifference. I can only be certain of what I know and I can only know what I judge to be certain. What matters in the end is that I say I am called--then the call will follow.

More and more I feel the need to leave for that great elsewhere, to go to the place I had avoided for some time because I had feared it for so long. More and more I am taking notice of my present surroundings--committing to memory things, traces, faces, and all those intense emotions that I experienced in a place that has become so familiar, so mine--like the traveler who keeps on looking back because he knows he may never return.

More and more: my true self awaits.
I wonder how patient he is.


  1. Anonymous12/13/2009

    Is this a call to love, a call to the religious life, or a call to go abroad? :)

  2. And what, my dear friend, made you think that it was one of the three? I'm suddenly curious.

    You know that if I already used the call to love and to the religious life as examples, then that cannot be the call I am referring to because that is too obvious. Now the third is striking: where did you get that? Not that it was right, but it shows that you are someone who is near yet still so distant.

    It's not one of the three, but a bit of each. And that's just the persona speaking. That may not even be me.

    I am happy to hear from you--again.

  3. Anonymous12/14/2009

    Hello again, my friend. :)

    It's because I think a call is always a call to leave, whether it be a figurative departure (as in the call to love or to the religious life), or to literally leave for a foreign place. Previously, you posted a photo about ennui. I have always thought that a good way to remedy ennui is a change of scenery. :)

    Someone near yet still so distant. What do you mean by this? I am suddenly curious. :)

  4. Dear friend,

    It's nothing dramatic or anything like that, much less is it religious or erotic. It's--well, how does one put it without falling into everyday words?--more of knowing there's something more even though what you have is more than enough (greed), or there is something you have to do but you do not as yet know what that could be or where that could be found or achieved. (There, purely cliché.)

    It's also not local and neither is it spiritual. I'm also not bored or annoyed, not melancholy or anxious. . .. Now this already sounds like a riddle.

    I give up trying to give it a name. But what I do sense is that I have somewhat silently achieved what I had set out to do. And a certain nameless sadness always follows these victories. But I really do not know. Also, I do not know why I am talking about myself. Hopefully that does not mean anything.

    Near yet still so distant: I have this hunch that you either know me or you're just a good reader not only of these pages but of my mind and perhaps of my personality. And that is curious because I hide, not intentionally like a thief but more like a shy young man at a party. But you catch my head peeking out at times or it feels like you've seen my face. Yet you remain, perhaps forever, a stranger to me.

    I remember a line from Hölderlin which Heidegger would quote. It goes:

    "The thinker and the poet indeed dwell near on mountains apart."

    You speak softly, I listen intently but you are mountains away.

  5. Anonymous12/15/2009

    My dearest friend, I think you're expecting someone you know, or more accurately, I think, you are hoping for someone you know. Here, I am very sorry to disappoint you. I think I have intruded enough that I have become too familiar for your comfort. I apologize.

    I think you reveal yourself in your entries more than you think. I am simply genuinely interested in your thoughts. I find them so fascinating that I cannot help but be intrigued by the person behind them. It's a sickness I have, actually, trying to understand people. I cannot help but look for the person in every word he utters, and everything he does. I think you understand. :)

  6. I believe, my dearest friend, that there are no words more sorrowful than the ones you wrote: ". . . you are hoping for someone you know."

    How do I begin to imagine the story of a man who feels, wishes or dreams that? And why would he have such a hope? What goes on in his mind? Is he not really more afraid than excited? And what happens when what he hopes for inevitably fails him? These are beautiful, because crippling, questions--ones that can either liberate the heart or crush it.

    Yes, naturally, I understand. It is perhaps a "sickness" of mine as well. And to be honest, I also cannot help but imagine the person behind the words. What are you like? What do you do? What is your past and what are your dreams? But, alas, I know very well also that there are things better left unknown not because ignorance is bliss but because knowledge is always imperfect and thus complicated.

    So do not apologize. I was hoping you really are a stranger. You just happen to be the closest stranger I know, the most distant friend I have.

    (Thank you. You saved me from tonight.)

  7. Anonymous12/16/2009

    My friend, I did not mean to confuse you. I did not intend to be deceptive nor mysterious. Perhaps, like you, I am like a shy young man at a party. I did not bother to give my name because I did not think it mattered. I did not think anyone would be interested. I'm sure you understand. :)

    So I thank you very much for your interest. I assure you, though, that like everyone else, I am better as a stranger. Like everyone else, I will turn out to be a disappointment. :)

    Truth be told, I think I am most honest when I am here in your little space. Is this where you go to think? I find that this has become my thinking place too. So thank you. I guess we are helping each other more than we know. :)

    Thank you for allowing me to know you a little bit. I think you're fascinating. :)

  8. Yes, dear friend, this is my "thinking place" (that's a great way to put it, by the way, so thank you. That's a great title.)

    And you know, as I was thinking about you today, I decided that this is perfect: because we know each other by the words that we write, I realized that there is nothing clearer or more perfect than words. Because seeing a person as she speaks multiplies the levels of possible interpretations; but words, oh, what can one ever say that cannot be clear? Unless we wish to deceive. And, as you said, and as I know, you are no deceiver.

    And, do not worry, I like you as you are, nameless and faceless, as I do not wish to ease the tension between knowing and not knowing you. I am also better as a stranger: I am in person, let's say, difficult. Or a problem. But perhaps a good one. But this is already about myself.

    I also doubt that I "help" you in any way, not only because I do not think you need help, but also because I think I do not say anything that you do not know already. That is what understanding means. And you, oh you, understand.

    So stay. Let's think some more. I think you made this place new.

  9. Anonymous12/18/2009

    Merry Christmas, The Saint, my dearest friend. I wish you happiness. :)

  10. A meaningful Christmas to you, too, my dear friend without a name.

    Likewise, and hopefully much more this coming new year.


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