Sacred and Profane, or S M L XL

by MT

“Every being is sufficient to itself. No being can deny itself, its own nature; no being is intrinsically limited. Rather, every being is in itself infinite; it carries its God—that which is the highest being to it—within itself. Every limit of a being is a limit only for another being that is outside and above it. The life of the ephemera is extraordinarily short as compared with animals whose life span is longer; and yet this short span of life is just as long for them as a life of many years for others. The leaf on which the caterpillar lives is for it a world, an infinite space.”

“Therefore, whatever the object of which we become conscious, we always become conscious of our own being; we cannot set anything in motion without setting ourselves in motion. An since willing, feeling, and thinking are perfections, essences, and realities, it is impossible that while indulging in them we experience reason, feeling, and will as limited or finite; namely, as worthless. . . . It is impossible to be conscious of will, feeling, and reason only as finite powers, because every perfection, every power, every being is the immediate verification and confirmation of itself. One cannot love, will, or think without experiencing these activities as perfections; one cannot perceive oneself to be a loving, willing, and thinking being without experiencing an infinite joy in being so.”

~Feuerbach, Introduction to the Essence of Christianity, 102-4; quoted from “On Feuerbach,” in Louis Althusser, The Humanist Controversy and Other Writings (1966-67) [2003]: 120.

“Many years ago Robert Frost gave a reading of his poem “Menging Wall.” In it there is a line which goes: ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ When Frost had finished, a lady spoke up indignantly from the back of the room: “But Mr. Frost, don’t you believe in the League of Nations?” For a world without boundaries was part of the old-fashioned liberal dream. Does the present generation share this conviction, or are boundaries perhaps coming back into favor—in not in international affairs at least in everyday life? It is well to remember that the word means that which binds together; a boundary is what makes it possible for a society to have its own individuality. And this is true of the individual holding also.”

~J. B. Jackson, “The Public Landscape” in Landscapes: Selected Writings of J. B. Jackson [1970]

“The search for identity assumes many forms; one which directly affects the landscape is a growing dependence on other people, a gregariousness. . . . [T]here is no human identity unless there is another person to recognize it. We seem to be redefining man once again as a social animal—though not as a political animal—and recognizing the necessity for communication. Nothing can more vividly illustrate this change than our present attitude of a hundred and fifty years ago. At that time solitary confinement was not thought of as a punishment, but a speedy and effective type of reform therapy: the individual was confronted with himself and learned what his mistake had been. He was safe from the contamination of society. Now it is considered the harshest punishment that can be inflected.” [146]

“The process of self-definition cannot go on by itself; it calls for the presence of others, and people of the younger generation know this better than anyone else. It is a dialog, not a monolog, and that is why existential writers in particular attach such importance to language, to communication. Existence means shared existence. We are all increasingly dependent on the presence of our fellow men—not necessarily on their approval; their reaction to our existence is just as essential.” [147]

~J. B. Jackson, “The Social Landscape” in Landscapes: Selected Writings of J. B. Jackson [1970]