Friday, May 18, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - May 18

The Climate of My Corner of the Woods

There is a mental ecology, a living balance of spirits, in this corner of the woods. There is a place for many other songs besides those of birds. Of Vallejo, for instance. Or the dry, disconcerting voice of Nicanor Parra. Or there is also Chuang Tzu, whose climate is perhaps most the climate of this hot corner of the woods. A climate in which there is no need for explanations. There is also a Syrian hermit called Philoxenus. There is the clanging prose of Tertullian. There is the deep vegetation of that more ancient forest than mine: the deep forest in which the great birds Isaias and Jeremias sing. When I am most sickened by the things that are done by the country that surrounds this place, I will take out the prophets and sing them in loud Latin across the hills and send their fiery words sailing south over the mountains to the place where they split atoms for bombs in Tennessee.

There is also the nonecology: the destructive unbalance of nature, poisoned and unsettled by bombs, by fallout, by exploitation: the land ruined, the waters contaminated, the soil charged with chemicals, ravaged with machinery, the houses of farmers falling apart because everybody goes to the city and stays there. There is no poverty as great as that of the prosperous, no wretchedness as dismal as affluence. Wealth is poison. There is no misery to compare with that which exists where technology has been a total success. Full bellies have not brought peace and satisfaction but dementia, and, in any case, not all the bellies are full. But the dementia is the same for all.

May 1965, V.239-40

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