APOLOGY for WONDER: SAM KEEN

Keen, Sam, Apology for Wonder, Harper & Row, 1969.

p 24 “The philosophical term “contingency” most accurately describes one characteristic of objects as they are given to us in wonder. As used here, contingency means that in raw experience the object we apprehend in wonder comes to us without bearing its own explanation. Why it is, or perhaps even what it is, is not immediately obvious. In less philosophical but more modern terminology, wonder-events are happenings, revelatory occurrences which appear, as if by chance, bearing some new meaning (value, promise) which cannot immediately be integrated into a past pattern of understanding and explanation.”

OBSERVATION: Moving through life, observing the passage of time and space, interacting with the inner world of the imagination, and outer world of perceived reality, we begin to recognize the profound nature of all that exists. Whether we try to define the absolute, or whether we simply accept things as they are, moving forward, allowing the mind to ponder the wondrous events we experience, it is important to understand and activate wonder. Tabula rasa, before the indoctrination, free to find profound experience in the mundane, this is the wonder and fascination found in the child’s eye of the mind. Wonder is at the source of who we are as human beings, it is central to the function of the imagination, and helps us recognize the true mysteries of the possible.

HERZOG: SAUL BELLOW

“To finish with Herzog. I meant the novel to show how little strength “higher education” had to offer a troubled man. In the end he is aware that he has had no education in the conduct of life (at the university who was there to teach him how to deal with his erotic needs, with women, with family matters?) and he returns, in the language of games, to square one—or as I put it to myself while writing the book, to some primal point of balance. Herzog’s confusion is barbarous. Well, what else can it be? But there is one point at which, assisted by his comic sense, he is able to hold fast. In the greatest confusion there is still an open channel to the soul. It may be difficult to find because by midlife it is overgrown, and some of the wildest thickets that surround it grow out of what we describe as our education. But the channel is always there, and it is our business to keep it open, to have access to the deepest part of ourselves—to that part of us which is conscious of higher consciousness, by means of which we make final judgments and put everything together. The independence of this consciousness, which has the strength to be immune to the noise of history and the distractions of our immediate surroundings, is what the life struggle is all about. The soul has to find and hold its ground against hostile forces, sometimes embodied in ideas which frequently deny its very existence, and which indeed often seem to be trying to annul it altogether.”

OBSERVATION: There are great thinkers, people with powerful insight, who live, and have lived on this planet. We all need to be thankful for those who offer this insight to the world. Saul Bellow points to a genuine need to recognize, and participate in the process of knowing the inner self, the life force existing within all human beings. Through the process of recognizing and activating this true nature of humanity, we can all participate more fully in the process of living, the active principle of life itself.