Holy The Firm – Comparing the Days

As promised, a look at the days when compared and contrasted.  Here’s a pretty little chart!  Sorry if the thoughts are in fragments.  I swear it makes sense when you read the book! 🙂

More comments on Day Two:

  • Heartbreak, “caught holding one end of a love”
  • Everything good looks fake
  • Chart of possible (bad) reactions to a Day Two event (I didn’t even realize that she was providing them until it was pointed out to me):


More comments on Day Three:

  • There are no clean hearts, there are no depraved hearts.  There is no one but us.
  • Ambiguity
  • Anything can happen – expect the unexpected
  • Danger
  • Love
  • Perfect faith = bad
  • We become the flame, sacrificing ourselves to give light to others
  • Irony – holding pairs of opposites together (“I am myself falling down slowly, or slowly lifting up.”)
  • Christ – Human and Divine, Eucharist – Christ with a cork
  • Holy the Firm – Matter and Spirit
  • Joy, Bliss

Holy the Firm

Annie Dillard

General Comments:

  • Difference between Tinker Creek:  Enters into human suffering…the *real* mystery of life.
  • “Nothing is going to happen in this book.”
  • This isn’t about things changing for us, it’s about *us* changing.  It is about personal transformation.
  • Like Denise Levertov’s poem, City Psalm

“I
have seen
not behind but within, within the
dull grief, blown grit, hideous
concrete facades, another grief, a gleam
as of dew, an abode of mercy,
have not heard behind but within noise
a humming that drifted into a quiet smile.
Nothing
was changed, all was revealed otherwise;
not that horror was not, not that the killings did not
continue,
not that I thought there was to be no more despair,
but that as if transparent
all disclosed
an otherness that was
blessed, that was bliss.
I saw Paradise
in the dust of the street.

  • In both days 1 and 2, we think we have life figured out (especially in day 2!)
  • In day three, we know more than anything that life is a mystery (I only know enough to want to worship).
  • The movement from Day One to Day Two is not in our control, and in fact goes against what we want (remnants of Kierkegaard?)
  • The movement from Day Two to Day Three cannot be forced either, and often feels like a revelation
  • Day Three inevitably collapses into Day One…and the process repeats…but hopefully we progress closer and closer to truth
  • Day Three experiences parallel that of mysticism and gnosis.
  • Is there any connection to Nietzsche’s three stages?

Symbolism (brief):

  • In the beginning, the spider web is holding together beauty and violence
  • Islands represent eternity coming into time: “Here is the fringey edge where elements meet and realms mingle, where time and eternity spatter each other with foam.”
  • Who is a moth lit with flame?
    • Julie Norwich (Julian of Norwich was an anchoress and Christian mystic)
    • The little god
    • Annie herself
    • The seraphs
    • The nun, thinker, and artist

Okay, that’s all I have.  I hope it helped! 🙂

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    • a
    • October 12th, 2007

    Wow! Wow! and Wow! I'm going to have to go back and read it again with these notes. This is wonderful. Thank you!

    • a
    • October 12th, 2007

    And yes – it seems to me this fits quite nicely with Nietzsche's stages. Day 1 – thinking we have it all figured out until something comes along and makes us have to search out a new path. That's the camel – being dutiful to how we think things are. Movement to Day 2 – we're thrown off kilter and forced to get off the beaten path of what is known. Day 2 – Once on this new terrain, we have no choice but to slay the dragon (get rid of the values that we've been holding onto that no longer serve us) The lion stage. (I've been reading Coming to Our Senses by John Kabat-Zinn and like how he comes at it – we have to let go of what it is we cling to – it doesn't have to be thought of so violently although I think it often affects us in a sort of violent way because it can be so painful.)Movement to Day 3 – it's almost like it has to be a revelation because it involves a completely new, unknown way of being. It's the transcendence of the old (rebellion is a form of attachment/clinging). Day 3 – everything is safe again. Innocent. Nietzsche's child stage.That's amazing!! Movement to Day 3 –

  1. You see now why I love this book so much? :)That is absolutely incredible that Nietzsche matches up with it, too. Lends quite a bit of credibility to the process itself. I have so much awe just looking at how so many people could come up with the same sort of thing. Amazing.

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