Monday, January 25, 2010

The Wall

"He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon. I am very busy building this wall all around; and as this wall goes up into the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in its dark shadow. I take pride in this great wall, and I plaster it with dust and sand lest a least hole should be left in this name; and for all the care I take I lose sight of my true being."
Rabindranath Tagore


  1. As every great symbol, also the wall is ambivalent. It can imprison us, it can protect us, it is limiting us, but we can lean against it, when we are tired.

    Tagore could seem pessimistic to someone.
    But I think he is a careful warner who shows a danger by painting a minacious picture.

  2. Even the strongest wall has small cracks and holes. Have the courage to trust and somebody carefuly find them. They should not be stuffed, but carefully increased, so that you will
    find and be yourself again...

  3. @ epitimaois
    ….Tagore could seem pessimistic to someone….

    Someone? Isn´t it his own brand what he is talking about? In german-english: his image?

  4. It's so true! We try hard to wall in our inner self instead of setting it free - not so much out of vanity, but out of fear to be hurt.

  5. @storyarchitekt: Did you set your inner self free?

  6. @cs

    I think, Tagore is a man who always tried to be not selfish, not too personal, too subjective: a rare example of selftrascender in search of - at least - intersubjective meanings and rules and - possibly - universal truth.

    But why does he speak in first person? Because he wants to admonish and warn everyone, but not from an exclusive position. Not like a smart arse, but as someone who gives humbly the example, admitting that this problem is also his. He has a big name, but everyone sees for instance the big name and not how little every man is in comparison with the expectations floroushing in the hearts of his admirers.

  7. But I would like to add some other aspects. Tagore's poetic words make us think that he is speaking of something very universal, something which comes near to an absolute truth and is moving our hearts because of its spiritual, potentially antimaterial wisdom, which remembers "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" in Ecclesiastes/Qoehelet. We are happy to have no big name after all and to be so insignificant.

    In the work of the sicilian writer Pirandello there is an ever turning theme: the difference between person and personage. Pirandello treats the same issue, but he does not speak of a wall. For Pirandello the personage is a mask!! The mask is like a pocket wall which you can put on your face and take back into the pocket. The mask is ambivalent too and maybe even in a double sense, because it allows to switch between ox and Jupiter. Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi = What is allowed to Jupiter isn't allowed to an ox; this proverb is certainly the origin of the ambiguous ability to use different measures measuring different persons, which sometimes makes the roman church appear so smart.

    Bernardo Provenzano lived for some decades behind the walls of a farm in the country near Corleone, south from Palermo. Now, before you all say, poor Provenzano, imprisoned for his whole life behind the walls of his own name, consider that the walls were not only the walls of the farm. The true founding walls were (and are) the detailled comprehensive social cosmos which makes it possible that a man can not only survive but illegally manage industry and exercise monarchic power over life and death of thousands of persons whithout ever signing a document in front of a notary and forcing others to sign in stead. And as many bosses of the mafia, this boss of the bosses, famous for his cruelty, was and is very religious. When the policeman arrived, Provenzano, surprised, gave him his hand and with a slight acknoledging bow he said: "YOU found me? Bravo!".

    There is an ancient sicilian proverb: "Cummandari รจ megghiu che futtiri" - "It is better to exercise power than to fuck."

    Corleone, this takes the cake, means Lionheart.

    Sorry for stressing your empaty that much.

    Sicily is the home of the Anti-Tagores. Theron of Akragas, Hiero of Gela, Gelo of Syracus are more similar to Provenzano than one might suppose.
    But how became tyrannis topical again, shortly after Cavour had unified Italy?

  8. What is allowed to an ox, isn't allowed to Jupiter!

    That's why I chose to be an ox and try to make career as a donkey.