Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - June 16

Needing to Turn a Corner

The realization that I need to turn a corner, to slough off a skin.

The need for moral effort, in the midst of engourdissement—the boring—and confusion. There is probably something sick about the mental numbness and anguish.

It is hard to see exactly what is to be left and what is to be thrown overboard.

But once again, at the risk of getting involved in hopeless confusion, I try to face the incomprehensible problem (for me) of writing. Incomprehensible because I am too involved and committed. That is the bad thing. It is so true that I have to continue being a writer that I do not know where to begin to think about not being one. Where to make the divisions. I feel it is useless even to make them, although I know what they are in my own mind. Certainly I can write something, and write, if possible, creatively. But not to preach, not to dogmatize, not to be a pseudo-prophet, not to declare my opinions. And yet it is essential to take a moral stand on some point—like atomic war. Am I so far gone that I can’t do this without putting a brazier on my head and running about like Solomon Eagle in the London fire?

Possibly, what is required of some of us, and chiefly of me, is a solitary and personal response in the form of nonacquiescence, but quiet, definite and pure. I am not capable of this purity because I am frankly and simply clinging to life, to my physical life, of course, and to my life as a writer and a personage. To save myself, I have got to lose at least this attachment.

June 27, 1961, IV.133-34

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