Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, February 17, 2014

We Hope Because We Believe There Is An Outside

Brandon at Siris posted this quote from Gabriel Marcel which has seized hold, rather firmly, of my imagination:
During the last war I devoted much thought to the characteristics of hope and to the tragic state of prisoners of war. I concluded by asking myself whether in the last analysis hope might not always be looked on as an active reaction against a state of captivity. It may be that we are capable of hoping only in so far as we start by realizing that we are captives. Our slavery, moreover, may take very different forms, such as sickness or exile. (This will help us to understand why it is that in some countries where social technique is over-developed, in which a sort of ease is assured to everyone, hope fades and withers, and with it the whole of religious life. Life stands still and there is nothing that does not labour under an invincible boredom. This seems to be so in Sweden, to a large extent.) From this it would appear that at the back of hope lies some sort of tragedy. To hope is to carry within me the private assurance that however black things may seem, my present intolerable situation cannot be final; there must be some way out.
This comes from The Mystery of Being, Chapter IX.

A friend suggested a very apropos quote from Lord of the Rings, The Return of The King:
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”


bearing said...

Can I just say that I love the verb "smote" here? Perfect, just perfect.

Brandon said...

It really is a good quote. I scheduled it before I left on retreat because I didn't know when I'd be posting again, and it was nice being reminded of it this morning. And the connection to LOTR is indeed very fitting.

Jenny said...

This is beautiful to contemplate.

Hope is not only a feeling of happy excitement, which I frequently forget. It is also a gritty perseverance in the right path when you actually feel like rolling up in a ball. Hope does smite because it carries with it the implicit acknowledgement that things can kinda suck around here.

MrsDarwin said...

Jenny, yes. The painful part of hoping is the realistic assessment of the current circumstances. Sometimes you can muddle along thinking, "Oh, this isn't so bad," or "I'm okay," but hoping means that you have look things firmly in the eye and say, "Yes, this is really is bad." And opening yourself up this way can hurt, because you make yourself vulnerable.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

I've been spending too much time on Facebook. I want to "like" bearing's comment.

Jenny brings it nicely back to Marcel's inspiration: hope also means acknowledging that you are in fact in prison.