I have read and heard that some friends and acquaintances also organize online prayer and meditation groups for this difficult time. They are good if that can make them feel better. I have personally stopped praying in public since I left the Catholic Church. For me, prayer is an intimate relationship with a harmony that has no face, voice, location or figuration whatsoever; it is an opening to the transcendent that can only be expressed with interior silence. The prayers that the religious have taught us and are read in every mysticism, serve to create that atmosphere that makes us feel the sense of the transcendent beyond any philosophy taught. I believe that even today they can serve to understand that beyond the didactic dictates, there is the voice of the heart and the strength of the feeling that is stimulated by the poetry of the words, if we know how to listen to them and if we find them in ourselves. Thus praying becomes simple and doing it in a group is possible only if the harmony between people manages to create that mystical inspiration that prayers suggest. What their purpose is is indicated by the feeling that can express them, certainly not by the mind that wishes.


Sometimes we can no longer see things for what they are. We lose the nature of awareness, our particular symptom that allows us to remember, see life as a whole, imagine perspectives or mental states. Also be aware of death. And it is precisely the ability to enter a world – the one we build ourselves, because “a dog lives in the world of a dog” – and in the position of others that confirms the importance of will: when we are in the throes of devastation of awareness, identity is very far away, and even being in memories struggles to recognize itself. I do not remember. If there is no longer the possibility of dialogue with the dimension through which to recover our truth, there can be no action. Because if “reality is a call to act”, man, emptied of the possibilities of the world, cannot recover movement. It also forgets the perception of one’s own freedom and that of others. Without the ability to imagine and overturn the senses of things we are lost individuals, at least at the level of consciousness. But we still manage to live. Oliver Sacks tells the case of a judge who, during the First World War, suffered a very serious injury to the frontal lobe: the trauma made him unable to feel emotions, to have a perception of himself and of the world, but it did not affect his intellectual faculties. . His profession, however, could no longer be exercised: the judge left the seat because he recognized that he no longer understood the motives of the others. What surrounds us can still tell us something, but we feel it without what the French call sensibilisation, which, as it happens, combines the two meanings of awareness and consciousness. Brain damage can give rise to David Hume’s philosophical chimera, namely being “a bundle or an accumulation of different sensations, which follow one another with unimaginable rapidity in perpetual flux and movement”. To experience how to lose the impressions of events and to feel that the sequence of numerous unrelated changes slip through the fingers: in Jimmie, another Sacks patient, they struggle – without his realizing it due to anosognosia – the emptiness and the miserable strength of identity, which survives the de-animation of the disease, Korsakoff’s syndrome. The power of our acting in reality is to overcome any kind of dissolution. There is certainly, in us, a place that can be taken care of, but without too many certainties. And the mind often is silent and limits itself to observing.


The tragic story of Adrian Leverkuehn, a German musician who, like Faust, obtains years of marvelous intellectual activity from the devil in exchange for eternal damnation. Written at the end of the last war and immediately after the war, the novel could not better express the desperate atmosphere of what was the catastrophe of Germany. Around the historical core that embraces three generations moves a world of characters presented with the skilful skill of a great stylist, with heartfelt pity or with biting irony, and digressions are knotted to the central plot that range in the fields of music, philosophy, science.


Not safe as help, as to save you, perhaps from the very beginning I could not save you, from your mystery, your thoughts … bastards able to obscure all that was beautiful around you. I didn’t rush to understand how you didn’t rush to see how I saw you, fragile, alone, confused, but you loved and I didn’t have a message, I didn’t send a message when uncertainty prevailed. Some of the most famous, mysterious, mysterious. Secondly, I was just a fragile troop for this world, a world that is not capable, which is not in the degree of good luck, and you are why I do not love, but you love me, that it is part of this world, so tell me, how is it possible? I would like to feel you at the same time love you.
I fell into one of my pathetic periods of closure. Often, with human beings, good and bad, my senses simply detach, they get tired: I let it go. I am polite. I nod yes. I pretend to understand, because I don’t want to hurt anyone. This is the weakness that got me the most trouble. Trying to be kind to others I often find myself with a ribbed soul, reduced to a kind of dish of spiritual noodles. It does not matter… My brain shuts down. I listen. I answer. And they’re too dull to realize I’m not there …
Porcupines huddle together to fight the cold. Their body, however, is covered with sharp spikes, which causing them pain, forcing them to move away. This is the paradox of porcupines, their need to be close to each other while hurting themselves. Schopenhauer tells it and then Freud is also interested in it, because the same happens in human relations. The closer we get to another, the more we risk being hurt. The pains of one become the pains of the other, the quarrels hurt like quills, and force one to leave. But during the winter, the cold continues to loom, and porcupines left alone risk dying. They then decide to huddle, even though they are aware of getting hurt. The dilemma arises from the paradox: what is the right distance to keep from others? Porcupines will stop suffering when they find the correct distance, not too far away so they don’t freeze, and not too close so they don’t get stung. Even if it hurts, we need others. The closer another person is to us, the more we open up to them and let them be part of us, the more we risk colliding with pain. The more we love, the weaker and more at risk we are, but despite our wounds, love saves our lives. We need to have someone close, but without straying too far from ourselves, from what we are and what we want.
Men were born and raised in a cave, they are chained, then forced to remain imprisoned there, always in the same position. Behind them is a fire that reflects before their eyes the shadows of what is happening in the outside world. This is all they see. One of them, however, manages to free himself and comes out, he is dazzled by the sunlight and sees nothing, he wants to go back to the cave, since he believes only what he had there is true and good. This tells the myth of Plato’s cave. The cave represents the daily life in which we are all imprisoned. The man who comes out of it sees the truth of things, but does not understand it. If none of us are aware of what is in front of us, it is as if that did not even exist. It is not easy, but how many times, perhaps, we find ourselves in front of a happiness, a satisfaction, a kind gesture, a truth, and we do not realize it because it is easier to settle down in our daily life, in the thought that everything is wrong and wrong . It is easier to be sad than to struggle to be happy. It is a gesture that requires effort, violence, but it is definitely worth it. In fact, Plato continues to tell that if man were forced to stay outside and open his eyes to what he sees, over time he would be able to recognize everything, the sun would no longer blind him. And once he saw it, but never would he want to go back to the cave. Even if he did so, the other prisoners would not believe him, they would even be willing to kill him. This is because it is a choice that depends solely on us. We must learn to love what we have and which, too many times, we don’t even recognize. Happiness is a choice, we must have the strength to make it, only in this way will we find our sun.

( All artworks by Kate McDowell)

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