Monday, 26 November 2012


Last week, My Old Friend, Depression, came a visiting. I couldn’t rest, couldn’t do anything, but tried, nevertheless, forcing myself to be active and do the many things that are demanded of life and that I love to do in the best of times.   
I am writing here to analyze it because when I’m depressed, I cannot understand or analyze it. I feel like dying, I have no interest in anything, the many things I love to do become burdens, I become negative about my life, my creativity, my faith. I know I am tired but question my tiredness by thoughts like, what did I do to be so tired? How come other people have so much more energy than me? Why can’t I do this that or the other? How come I am so unproductive?            
A brief insight came to me as I bent over a chore in the kitchen: DON’T QUESTION YOUR TIREDNESS.
When I thought about it I realized I had been doing more than usual on the days preceding the onset. The list is long so I will skip it. Our lives are altogether too busy during the ‘holidays’ and we ignore the mute protests of our bodies. Tiredness follows the law of inertia and multiplies unless it is attended to. I forget that it takes as long to unwind as it is to get wound up. When I am tired there is nothing I can do about it, not even rest. Or even if I rest, sleep in, the brain gets fuzzy and that generates additional worry: what’s happening to me? Is my brain dying, am I finally old and decrepit? I can’t even let my brain rest but question its fuzziness; I can’t get a day entirely off because the appointment book has three scribbles in it for the day. Then there’s all the work around food for the ‘holidays.’ The messy kitchen has to be cleaned, and there is a lot of compulsion around ‘exercise.’
The causes of depression can only be seen in retrospect, and that’s why I’m trying to discover mine. I do not like being depressed and if the causes are to be hounded out, I must do my best. I have to come up with a strategy on detecting my tiredness, invariably the cause of my depression, sooner rather than later. But then the biology and the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, and one gets on a roll of tiredness because life is altogether too busy and one demands too much of oneself.
Touch – a massage or cuddling with a love one – helps a lot. And then one has to give oneself a long stretch of uncommitted time to unwind in. One has to say, NO to activities that feel like a burden instead of a joy.
This subject of resting is so important that I wrote a chapter on it in my book called The Writing Warrior. That will be my next blog entry.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Within of Things

This is the title of one of De Chardin’s chapters. A word about how this relates to me. After a lifetime, it seems to me, I have involved to feel entirely comfortable in my innerness. And not only comfortable, but joyous. Though I have earlier often been conflicted about this natural tendency in myself, vitiated it with thoughts like ‘be more active,’ ‘Do more,’ “don’t be a nerd, get out, mingle, move,’ I have returned to this central space, my throne, actually, my hermetic room that includes the entire universe. Okay, enough about myself, though I am not ashamed of such interjections (more to follow), or of interpreting him in a personal way. He says the quarrel between materialists and upholders of a spiritual interpretation need to be ‘brought into union . . . in a phenomenology . . . in which the internal aspect of things as well as the external aspect of the world.’
In the eyes of the physicist nothing exists legitimately, at least up to now, except the without of things’ but this process in the bacteriologist, biologist, ‘breaks down with man, in whom the existence of a within can no longer be evaded, because it is the object of a direct intuition and the subject of all knowledge.’

Science has eliminated consciousness from the models of the universe. (“The term consciousness is taken in its widest sense to indicate every kind of psychism, from the most rudimentary forms of interior perception imaginable to the human phenomenon of reflective thought.” De Chardin)
“Deep within ourselves, an ‘interior’ appears at the heart of things, as it were seen through a rent. This is enough to ensure that in one degree or another this ‘interior’ should obtrude itself as existing everywhere in nature from all time. Co-extensive with their Without, there is a Within of things.


Because it keeps the brain active, keeps us interested and actively participating in ‘the mysterious gift of our existence.’ We read to look at ourselves and our universe as in a mirror; to marvel, comprehend, understand; to be awe-struck; to be engaged, entertained, alive!
Don’t get hung up on sections or sentences you don’t understand; skip them, and read to get a general sense of the chapter. Don’t be afraid or lazy about using the dictionary: I recommend The American Heritage Dictionary. Read slowly, underline if necessary (I don’t hesitate to in the least, and for me books are highly sacrosanct enough to devour and eat). While re-reading I often just read the underlined for a quick review. Re Read. Don’t bother with introductions, go straight to the pudding.



De Chardin has coined this phrase, building upon the other uncontroversial biosphere and atmosphere. Julian Huxley (20th century’s leading evolutionary biologist) in his introduction to the book, defines the word ‘to denote the sphere of mind, as opposed to, or rather superposed on, the biosphere of sphere of life, and acting as a transforming agency promoting hominisation.’ (‘Hominisation’ if another of De Chardin’s neologisms, and deserves another entry.) Huxley criticizes De Chardin for not defining the term and wonders whether by noosphere De Chardin meant ‘the total pattern of thinking organisms (i.e. human beings) and their activity . . . or the special environment of man, the systems of organized thought and its products in which men move and have their being, as fish swim and reproduce in rivers and the sea?’ Huxley thinks, the former. I think, the latter.
It seems to me that by noosphere De Chardin meant the body, though invisible, like the atmosphere, in which we live, the interior of things.
I adore De Chardin for putting the emphasis back into the interior of things. There will be more about this is another entry. For now let me quote him: ‘the time has come to realize that an interpretation of the universe – even a positivist one – remains unsatisfying unless it covers the interior as well as the exterior of things; mind as well as matter. The true physics will one day achieve the inclusion of man in his wholeness in a coherent picture of the world.’    

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


As you can see, I am still mulling over the book. I will bypass the polemics of the title. For me ‘man’ includes ‘woman,’ (or rather, literally, ‘woman’ includes ‘man’) and get to the germ of both it and the thesis of the book. The appearance of the phenomenon of reflecting, thinking man, he says, is the acme and purpose (he doesn’t shy away from the word) of creation.Humans, he demonstrates throughout the book with examples from chemistry, biology, astronomy and physics, (a lot of which explanations I am not ashamed to admit I skipped reading) is the ‘axis and leading shoot of evolution,’ and is central, not only to the universe, but to the construction and creation of the universe.
PS: please note that De Chardin does not debunk evolution – far from it. By including it in his vision he arrives at a synthesis of both it and faith.