Monday, August 3, 2009

into the mystics

Mystics always hope that science will some day overtake them.
-Booth Tarkington (Newton Booth Tarkington)
American novelist and dramatist

I saw the quote above last evening and it's been poking my brain ever since. It's one of those times that I wish I could have a talk with this person from the past. Pick his brain and let mine stop feeling poked. If Tarkington had said Mystics always hope that science will some day validate them, that I could more easily understand. My sense of the root of his meaning at this stage in pondering the statement is that mystics are advanced beyond science in the comprehension of the meaning of it all. That mystics intuit and simply know, where science tests and proves.

I've known some true mystics in my life: cats all. If science would someday overtake the mystical cat life what could that mean ...... that my favorite cats through the decades would still be alive today? That they still would have died through the years but that I might easily experience their presence? That humans could follow cat gurus to learn how to become more cat like, i.e. perfect, according to the cat? That our first cat president born of a white, domestic short-hair mama cat and a black Persian papa cat would have to produce proof that the litter from which he came was the one mama cat had in the U.S. and not that other one she had while visiting Persia?
Ah well, those are enough crazy questions this early morning.......

As an inspiration to the author, I do not think the cat can be over-estimated. He suggests so much grace, power, beauty, motion, mysticism. I do not wonder that many writers love cats; I am only surprised that all do not.
-Carl Van Vechten


Greg Wright said...

Tarkington is worth getting to know.

My sense of what he meant, informed by a couple of readings of his non-fiction The World Does Move, is that mystics ponder the more troubling questions of life and death. If science could fulfill its promise of knowledge, many of those troubling questions would have answers.

For a time, Tark's sister dabbled in the occult, and Tarkington was convinced that the spirits conjured were real -- a fact that science could not account for. In the context of global war, he found that exceedingly troubling.

YogaforCynics said...

I've always said that the difference between dogs and people is that we're a bit more intelligent, but they have better personalities...same might be said for cats, but I'm allergic to them.

Basically, I think science searches for facts (or workable hypotheses), while spirituality, like poetry, searches for meaning. Of course, dogmatism and fundamentalism skew this by insisting that they've already found all the facts and meaning that matter...

bookmanie said...

Hi Lydia. You'd certainly very surprised if you said that the largest headers scientific or otherwise, may not have the same beliefs as yours, and you hide. Bookmanie. Speaking of mystery, it is involuntary, Bookman is the name of my blog and not my pseudo-name, so (a tic knowledge), in french it ends with an e. My blog has a name ending with a feminine, no relation to me, I am 100% male. Bookmanie.

RB said...

My best piece of writing was a short story from the perspective of a cat--I agree!

Owen said...

When I get home tonight am going to ask our cats what they think of this... usually when I ask them anything they just walk away... unless I have anything that smells like fish in my hand... then suddenly they are my best friends... sigh :-D

Phivos Nicolaides said...

This is an interesting topic! I love cats, but we have a dog!!

Friko said...

Hi Lydia,
Sorry, but you've made my brain hurt!
By the way, do you by any chance love cats?
As for the mystics, if the rest of us could understand them, they'd be philosophers, not mystics. Science is not terribly kind to mystics either, perhaps mystics get tired of all that mysticism and would love to "really" know and thus be overtaken by science.
It was lovely to see you at mine.
We must get in touch more often again, I enjoy our chats.

Kim said...

HA! Great comparison.

Cat are really mystical. There is just no way around it.

Hilary said...

I don't need convincing. Cats are as mystical as a critter could be. Great song too. :)

naomi dagen bloom said...

Cats as gurus, nifty notion. Far superior to humans who pose as authorities on our lives. Keep these ideas coming and forget about Booth Tarkington!

Lydia said...

@Greg- Great to have you here. :)
Thanks much for your info on Tarkington, that I found fascinating. My only exposure to his writing was via nightly reading time by my mother for my sis and me, and one of our favorites was Seventeen, written by him in 1916 - the same volume that my mother grew up reading. There is a fluffy pampered dog in the book named Floppit, which is exactly what we named our apricot miniature poodle-mix soon after we finished the book.

@YogaforCynics- Good point about dogs and it's true for cats, most definitely. I'm allergic to cats too and had amazing results (let's remember that Willow sleeps on my pillow) from eight years of monthly allergy shots.
You sure hit one out of the cat box with your final sentence!

@bookmanie- A bit the first part of your comments might be lost in translation. Just want to be clear that I wasn't hiding here; I really did need this forum to think about the quote. :)
Thanks for the other information. I'm surely not the only one here who has wondered. Just curious!

@RB- Fascinating! Is it published somewhere where I can read it?
My only short story was written about my two kittens who were killed when I was in college. Ahem...semi-autobiographical, I should say, to keep a haze around the identity of the guilty person. I never forgave him and writing the piece helped me stay sane.

@Owen- Goodness, your kitties live up to the cat's reputation of being independent and aloof. I simply won't have any of that, not even from the strays, and I guess they all can tell I need more from them. :)

@Phivos- But you surprise me so much! I have seen dozens of beautiful photos of cats in Greece. Actually, I believe I even saw a calendar devoted to shots of cats in gorgeous settings there. My impression is that Greece is quite a kitty place. Maybe lots of strays, certainly one who wants to live with Phivos!

@Friko- How easily you see through me :) ...loved em all my life.
I enjoy our chats too, especially with astute comments like you wrote here. Love the concept that if we could understand mystics they would be philosophers and not mystics.

@Kim- Good if I made you go "Ha" because so often your blog lightens my mood.

@Hilary- My cats want to be pen-pals with you. :)

@naomi- The thought came to me because my cats adore it when I roll out my yoga mat. It is just very special to them (and sometimes a real distraction for me!).

Ande said...

Strange, I have harboured a nagging feeling the last year or so which could be summoned with the opposite quote:
Scientists (at least this one) always hope that mystics will some day overtake them. ;)

Lydia said...

@Ande- Oh my, now you have given me a twist to follow in my thoughts. I am intrigued by what you wrote!

@Phivos- I wanted to formally apologize for my error above in writing as if you live in Greece. You live in Cyprus! I knew that but got mixed up. I hope everyone gets around to visiting your travel blog with marvelous photos of Cyprus and so many more places. :)

Greg Wright said...

Lydia, that is so cool. I haven't actually "met" anyone before who was read Tarkington as a child. My own father read "Penrod" to my brother and I. Very good stuff to grow up on.

Lydia said...

@Greg- Well, then, I think these similarities distinguishus as Tarkington buddies (I say this while admitting that you know so much more about him and his work than I do)!



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