My ears, or mind, was burning after reading a post on "what Eric Hoffer called 'true believers'". I didn't look Hoffer up, but I was wondering to myself about what it could mean, and I suppose that 'true believers' – from the context of the poem cited in the post (1:see below picture) – refers to those who exaggerate in zeal. For example, anyone becomes a believer (even an ostensibly rational scientist) who takes the promise of their field too literally, not understanding that "all renderings of experience are symbolic interpretations, that all discourse and all knowledge is a metaphor... Idealism, that is, is not science, but imagination, poetry, and art, and so is science!," writes Randall.
You may know that I am rather intrigued by laughter, and more specifically, a particular print of a laughing Buddha. What I am learning is that laughter, particularly the kind where one does not take oneself too literally is a useful social tool. Laughter is also on my mind because I read a fantastic post this morning about "the intensity of a boy who is laughter and also sacrificial fire".
So what happens if our view of the world is not so literal, or fixed... Perception becomes fluid, the "places" (topoi) where we put ideas shift; the geography of our world shifts. It takes a strong or very curious thinker to endure such tectonic activity: one may fall. And this is where I place belief: at this transient crossroads, where one's own existence is seen as tentative, so one feels ever merciful towards others: we are all in the same uncertain predicament.
Enter the fire rock, lapides igniferi, described here as protagonists in bestiaries – for they are rendered anthropomorphic. Some bestiaries bring "lithic vitality into wholly unexpected – and dangerously
combustive – realms, spaces in which easy assumptions about what it
means to be human or alive fall apart. Rocks are anthropomorphized not
with the effect that the petric becomes more knowable, or assimilated
into the human, but stone instead is removed from that constrictive
familiarity which prevents realization of its queerness." (Cited here.)
In other words, rocks, in the medieval world "have the capacity to organize the humans who look at them, based
on what they see, rather than being simply subject to human desire" (cited here). Fascinating to imagine a time when man allowed the universe to make an impression on him - not the other way around, as is the case today.
I would argue that seeing requires the boundaries to be blurred. But I do not agree that we are to remain in transgression; rather that transgression, like marginalia, brings an aside of insight to the body of text. To understand the dangers but meaning of (given our imperfect minds) transgression is to understand we do not possess a literal truth. Perhaps this is part of what is meant by sacrificial fire that is also laughter?
cited Robinson Jeffers' Thebaid: "How many turn back toward dreams and magic, how many children/ Run home to Mother Church, Father State,/... Sad children, yes. It is lonely to be adult, you need a father./ With a little practice you'll believe anything./ ... Faith returns, beautiful, terrible, ridiculous,/ And men are willing to die and kill for their faith."