Chapter 4: Deus Sive Natura

Aitareya I

My speech is fixed in my mind, my mind is fixed in my speech. Telos walked for a long time through the Dakota plains, thinking this one thought. He locked in on it like a tomahawk missile. Speech is one of the true representations of the self; like painting or music, it is self expression, and thus by speaking you are embracing yourself.

But speech is also limited. Speech is constructed of words, words are constructed of meanings, meanings that are limited by speech and other words: I say rock and you know what I am speaking of, but that is not the true essence of the rock. I can’t express the true essence of the rock, and indeed I probably don’t even know the true essence. Maybe there is no true essence, maybe the idea of some actuality behind the mask of language is a false hope: merely an idea that language is an imperfect representation of an unknowable reality.

And I will never know the truth of this matter, I will never know more than my speech and my feelings, so thus my speech must remain fixed in my mind and my mind in it. By using my speech and my mind intertwined, I am creating the world for myself– and for you. By speaking of a rock, I bring it to life. Before I spoke of it, there was no rock, but now there is.

And now there is a Damascus, and now there is a Venice, there is a Rocky Mountain range and there is the Lakota tribe. I speak of them and they are created for you. You speak of them and they are created for me. We speak of them together and create them for each other. Much in the way a child is created between two lovers, knowledge, ideas, worlds, are created between two people engaged in conversation.

You and I, though you may not have realized it, are engaged in conversation. Together we are creating a place. I speak of Damascus and you imagine it; I speak of Venice and you imagine it. Let it be manifest to me. Let it all be manifest to me. Let it be manifest to me so that I may reveal it to you, and that you may reveal it to me.

Brihadaranyaka I

I am Telos. I am Brahman.

The creation of the world, by the speech I use and the knowledge you integrate, the creation of our world, together, tells us that we are Brahman. When you embrace this oneness with the Brahman, indeed, by being the Brahman, you become the universe. But it is more than that: it is not that you come to embody the universe, it is that the universe comes to embody you. One and the same.

The speech, the language that creates this is utmost: understanding is both implicit and demanding. You cannot be Brahman if there is confusion between you and the world. “When a man thinks he is about to die, he says to his son: ‘You are Brahman, you are the sacrifice and you are the world.’” It is necessary to understand the Brahman, the sacrifice, and the world.

Only through discussion, through speech, through that holy union of conversation can you understand the Brahman, the sacrifice, the world. “‘Whatever has been studied by me (the father) is all unified in the word Brahman.’” Thus, Brahman is the merging of knowledge and the past: it is the consummation between learning and understanding. When the father dies, all these things are passed into the son, the son is the propagation of the father.

The father does not die, he lives on in his son. His son is his continuation, his perpetuality. One life is continued as long as it furthered within another. Telos is his father, his father’s father. No. Telos’s father was Telos. Thus, his life is not the twenty-odd years he has been alive, it is the entirety of human existence.

Telos read all this in his book, and knew he would have to think more on the Brahman. In order to be Brahman, for the universe to embody you, your speech must be in line with all that has been said. You must form to the past institutions. You must understand your father and all that came before him.

Isha I

Telos broke out of his meditations. He looked around and saw everything around him: the sun, the mist on the mountains in the distance, the sad waters of the Dead Sea. He saw the people in the village nearby, and the monks working in the monastery, further up the hill. Suddenly, pangs of hunger struck his belly and he realized he had been meditating for at least two days. He picked himself up and moved towards the monastery for respite.

Everything in this universe is transitory. All this, whatever moves on the Earth. We flow out of each other, out of the Earth, into each other, into the Earth.

This brought him peace. He felt liberated from Syme, Minos, and more importantly, Cavillace. Pounds of glorious weights were flying off his shoulders, into the sun, to burn up into irrelevance, not even dust would be left to remember them by, and when Telos died all memory would be lost of these weights, these doubts and regrets, they would all be swallowed back up by nature, twirling away, away, like ripples in water, to the edges of the universe, gone, dead, gone.

He stopped himself: his thoughts were wandering again, as if he perpetually would slip into meditation. His readings had unlocked various doors in his head that apparently allowed freely for thought. He could no longer stop the thoughts, he could no longer stave off questions of life and reality. They walked right up to him like a hungry dog. It was as is if his self was suddenly faster than his thoughts, and it would grab his mind and pull it along, like a speedboat hauling a person.

Come, come, lets go, faster and faster to where I don’t know, but we must get there, and oh I know what the place is, the place is happiness and we are there, as long as we don’t stop moving, as long as I can keep going forward. And when I stop, you stop; and when we stop, happiness dies and we are lost.

Katha I

Confronted with death, all men will relinquish their goods for one more day. Yama offered gold and vast domains, he offered fair maidens and to be King of all the Earth, but Nachiketa refused all, “O Death, these endure only till tomorrow.” Even the longest life is short indeed!

“The good is one thing, the pleasant, another. Both of these, serving different needs, bind a man.” And Telos raged! Yes, they bind a man, as everything he had experienced had bound him. He had been bound to bullets and ideals, he had been bound to Cavillace and danger, he had been bound to the city and its glamorous life. He wants to rip it all away!

But what more can he ask, than to live with people and their ways? Are their ways full of mistakes, or are mistakes only arbitrary judgments? Society deems the good from the bad, and his life in Damascus had been quite good. But is this social good an actual good or is it less? Is there an actual good or is it something less?

He lashes out now: he smashes his lamp, and throws it out the window. The struggle has found root in the physical world. As he pants, watching the lamp fall, he understands, there are two goods. There is the good of society, determined by everyone and in compromise with everyone. There is the good within him, determined by Atmah, by his true Self. He embraces both of them, he can interact with the social good by understanding his inner good. He can affect society and its goals by his participation: Brahmah is the collection of all goods and rights within itself. It is the summation of all Atmahs, it is the cohesion of selves.

It is glorious, he thinks, as the lamp shatters on the ground.

Kena I and Aitareya II

He by whom It is known, knows It not. It is known by those who do not know It. “Neither do I not know, nor do I know.” This is the essence of Brahmah. It is “the Mind of the mind, the Speech of speech, the Life of Life”– you must detach the Self from the sense. It is not the result of things; Brahmah is not hearing words, it is what makes you hear. It is not life, it is living. It is not speaking, it is what makes you speak.

When you accept this, Telos learned, you know Brahmah, and thus knowledge, thus immortality. If it is speech though, it must also be writing: Brahmah is here right this moment as I write, and it is with you as you read. But words cannot construct Brahmah for you, it is undefinable.

All of society is created by definition, by language. The only way we understand our social reality is by defining it: this is a house, this is my car, this is eating, this is food, this is my beautiful wife. A house is a construct that someone I paid built, and I live there, I put my things there. To build is to create with raw materials. But how do you define that which is, by nature, undefinable?

How do you accept it as real? Can it even be real? Or is that the trial of faith? Telos looked to the sky and tears filled his eyes. He was no longer sure he could embrace these studies fully. But his consciousness can’t be defined; language cannot define that which happens in our minds, that which happens in the worlds we can’t see or the lives we haven’t experienced. Telos is choking now, he can’t breathe, he can’t breathe!

Can the Brahmah, that inexplicable life force, can that answer everything? But it can’t be known, it is known through knowing it can’t be known! Telos collapses to the ground, he can no longer see straight, he can no longer perceive reality, oh fuck, where did it all go, ugh, fuck, fuck, stop the pain, my eyes are closing over and over again and they cannot go any further, my throat refuses to open, oh night, you have come, you have come for me, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Legenda Aurea I

The curtain is dark at first. It is unmoving. Nothing can be heard. Slowly, a light appears from behind, but it’s only slightly visible because the fabric is quite thick. The curtain shifts, the effect of an uncertain cause: wind, a person, the earth? Another light shines from behind, and a third. They move like spotlights, waltzing across the fabric. A fourth light joins and they pair off, slowly twirling around each other, gazing into their eyes, drifting away, forgetting where they are because oh, the other is so beautiful, have I not said that enough all these years?

And the curtain goes up after this introduction, the lights wander to the sides, a thin mist rolls across the stage. Loud stomping can be heard. Big men walk onto the stage, pounding the wood with their strong feet, all in rhythm. A wispy woman appears on the opposite side of the stage and ignores the men. She passes them and they disappear off stage, their thumps becoming muffled into silence.

The woman looks in their direction though and begins to cry, and the background explodes in bright colors. She wails as reds splash behind her, oranges ooze around and yellows flick desperately onto the screen. Oh, it’s raining! The colors melt in the water, and drip onto the stage. You thought it was a video, didn’t you, but no, the paint was real, it’s right there, and now it’s all coming down, onto the woman, she’s being covered in the paint.

She stifles her crying as she looks at her hands, and lifts her shaking head up to stare into the audience. She is red, orange, yellow. The rain pulls them off her, though. The rain pushed them onto her and now the rain is taking the colors off, and they flow forward and off the stage, sloshing around in the empty orchestra pit. She runs forward and jumps into the orchestra pit, so she can be red, orange, and yellow again, but the water is all gone, it has drained away, and she just hits her elbow as she lands on the floor.

Nova Prata I

Oh, oh, oh, so this is life. Right. There’s pain in his head. His shoulders are sore. Suddenly he wonders, where is he? He’s been here for two weeks and he doesn’t remember a thing about the place. He had entered some kind of trance. Everything had been melting together: it had been beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

Cobble-stone streets and short brick buildings make up the town of Nova Prata. Everyone seemed to recognize Telos while he walked around, in sort of a friendly way. Telos felt awkward as he was living, really living here, for the first time. He didn’t really remember what he had done; it was like someone else had been living his life, and suddenly he was forced to deal with the consequences. He very much didn’t want to.

Instead of talking to anyone, he visited the church and spent a number of hours in the belfry. Is this really what it had come to? Hiding in a bell tower in the small town of Nova Prata, afraid of anything and everything? Is this what questioning reality gets you? Is this what lacking faith reveals to you? Telos felt sick.

He lived in Prata for a while, a couple months, never reading any more books or meditating again. He had to ingrain the world into his psyche again, as a physical place where he could interact with other people. He had grown so distant from it. Soon, he forgot how driven he had been to understand reality, to see the cracks within the glass. He lived like everyone else, eating, sleeping, being happy.

Telos felt normal again. He felt right.

Nova Prata II

After a number of months of living quietly and simply in the small town of Nova Prata, Telos felt grounded again. He worked in the fields during the day, and drank with the older men at the local bar at night. He’d go to bed slightly drunk and wake up tired, but he’d clean himself up and go right back out to work. The routine was nice, it was molding him into something he needed, it was forming him into a hard-working, hard-nosed man.

Everyone was surprised when he announced his decision to leave. He had lived there for five months, and everyone had gotten used to his quiet ways. The old men liked him because he didn’t talk much and laughed at their jokes; the girls liked him because he was mature and handsome. There was collective disappointment due to his departure.

But, not one to let something end on a sour note, they bid him a fond farewell. One of the girls kissed him on the mouth and blushed, then ran back into the crowd. Telos smiled a sly little smile, and waved to everyone before setting out down the mountain path.

The paths wound through the Serra Gaúcha, the northern extension of the Rocky Mountains. The mountains are gorgeous; decked out in thick trees and slender waterfalls, it’s an idyllic mountain range. He hiked through them for days, taking it all in, enjoying the simple exposition of the earth.

Brief Encounter I

The Serra Gaúcha mountains are not anything like their southwestern counterparts. Whereas the Rockies are steep, inhospitable, cold, the Serra are covered in lush forests. The stark differences found across the mountain range is what gave rise to the two different names for what is in actuality one thing.

But the lush forests are generally unfavorable for living and so they remain largely untouched. As Telos journeyed through them, he came upon caves frequently, and would use them as shelter for a night’s rest. In one cave, he met another traveler, Carleton Leuftufel.

Leuftufel was a quiet man, but they shared a campfire and ate dinner and Telos got him talking. He was a painter, or at least, in theory; he painted scenes of religion and apocalypse, indeed a strange combination. Telos inquired towards the juxtaposition and Leuftufel explained it was, for him, like writing a story about both life and death. Religion was a method to satisfy the worries that life presented to him on a daily basis. Apocalypse, scenes of mass destruction and death, were the most shocking metaphor by which those worries could be represented.

Thus, he was exploring both the uncertainty of life, and the certainty that faith provided.

Telos found this a wonderful paradigm in which to create art. Their conversation soon drifted to less serious matters. Leuftufel revealed that he normally lives in Damascus, although he had journeyed far to the northeast recently to visit his ailing grandfather. Their paths were crossing in an arc, as Leuftufel was going south, back to Damascus, and Telos’s path was leading him north, to Skara Brae.

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