Unreal Nature

May 22, 2015

To Fail and Come Again

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:33 am

… Perhaps it is always the destined role of the compassionate to be strangers among men. To fail and pass, to fail and come again.

This is from the essay ‘The Inner Galaxy’ found in The Unexpected Universe by Loren Eiseley (1994, 1964):

… The cruel and the gentle would sit at the same fireside, dreaming already in the Stone Age the different dreams they dream today.

The visionary was already awaiting the eternal city; the gifted musician sat hearing in his brain sounds that did not yet exist. All waited upon and yet possessed, in some dim way, the future in their heads. Abysmal darkness and great light lay invisibly about their camps. The phantom cities of the far future awaited latent talents for which, in that unspecialized time, there was no name.

Above all, some of them, a mere handful in any generation perhaps, loved — they loved the animals about them, the song of the wind, the soft voices of women. On the flat surfaces of cave walls the three dimensions of the outside world took animal shape and form. Here — not with the axe, not with the bow — man fumbled at the door of his true kingdom.

[ … ]

… Through shattered and receding skulls, growing ever smaller behind us in the crannies of a broken earth, a stranger had crept and made his way. But precisely how he came, and what might be his destiny, except that it is not wholly of our time or this our star, we do not know.

Perhaps it is always the destined role of the compassionate to be strangers among men. To fail and pass, to fail and come again. For the seed of man is thistledown, and a puff of breath may govern it, or a word from a poet torment it into greatness.

My most recent previous post from Eiseley’s book is here.

-Julie

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