An Excerpt from Deconstructing Mount Athos: An Image of the Sacred in English Literature

An Excerpt from Deconstructing Mount Athos: An Image of the Sacred in English Literature

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“What are men to rocks and mountains?”

Jane Austen 

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

A Cautionary Preamble

In a sense, the gloomy Dane, Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), could be said to have started Deconstruction. Following which this blazing torch was taken up in Norway by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) and then by the devotees of DaDa in 1916 Zurich. Not as mere word-play, characteristic of phenomenological debates by contemporary philosophers, but as a clear-sighted examination of the rich linguistic layering inbuilt into our Existential interaction with the world around us; as well as between each other. More than merely pioneering “Postmodernism”, after all, these gifted men intuited the tacit need to find aesthetic closure concerning the self-imposed delusions of our Western past. Similarly inspired in my own deconstruction of Mount Athos, I remain indebted to these giants, along with additional spirit-guides including; HRH Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, my muse from The Gambia, Assan Badjie, Professor Cyril Pavlikiano., Freya Asswynn, Dr. Ali Atalar., Gideon Rix,. His Excellency Fakhraddin Gurbanov., Jonathan Wood., Professor Raymond Tallis., Mr. Glyn Paflin., and Dr. Robert McTeigue S. J., for their incessant encouragement as well as consistent support. I also remain obliged to Dr. Tamara Dragadze for her supportive reading of this text and her profoundly contextualizing comments; never forgetting Dr. Bernard Hoose for contributing a Preface. Needless to add, my heartfelt thanks are equally extended to Mr. Jack Gale for introducing me to “psychic questing” as an obvious step above mundane attempts to grasp atmosphere, authorial intention, and location. Mountains are never, when all said and done, simply high-raised geographical peaks. They are rocky Apostles evoking realities beyond themselves. Mineral Saints, as it were, reflecting other worlds and subtle realms, exceeding the landscape they physically occupy. In this telling fashion, these huge, stony, protagonists both uplift those who look at them from afar, while demanding reverence from the truly rugged few dwelling thereon. Twin actors, some would say, in a sacred drama promising redemption to frail human flesh. Mutual performers, others might supplement, who participate in the religious rigours necessary to refine multidimensional Spirit. Still, these granite landlords refuse to offer the slightest earthly luxury to their hardened tenants. What is more, as the marbled ancestors of humankind, made adamantine through beatifying pressures, they insist on an honesty of purpose and a vitality of heart.

Of course, such craggy thespians demonstrably provoke great Literature. Especially among people who live in places where there is neither a grand symbolic zenith, nor sunken mythic nadir (of terrain) to ponder upon. So confessed, this rather British book was born. It was called forth from the surrounding ether through strangely significant chance and willfully probing circumstance. In other words, from those liminal spaces where hidden Intelligences dwell! Strangely synchronous with other related projects, Mr. Vladimir Weidemann, an Estonian colleague, invited me to speak at a Conference being held in Salzburg during the summer of 2011: an international gathering called, The World Public Forum: Dialogue between Civilizations. Instinctively, I agreed with this captivating concept, not to mention the alluring fact I have always been in love with Austria. With each and every one of the freezing vapours rising as majestic Valkyries from the pinnacles of its splendid mountainous peaks! And with the hale, blond-haired, and hardy people, whose ancestors interbred with my own, to nurture noble bonds of an everlastingly mutual fealty. Thus, somewhat gleefully, I immediately accepted his kind offer. As a thoughtful aside, my scholarly associate suddenly rejoined, “What do you want to speak about”? Confessedly put on the spot, I found myself unsteadily replying, “Oh, I don’t know, something like images of Mount Athos in English Literature”? To date, the actual origins of my desperate response remain obscure, even though I knew our collective cogitation would be focused around the enriching cultural contribution made by this gritty and highly complex conundrum to European life.

At this stage, it needs to be noted that the World Public Forum (WPF) serves as a consciously deliberative aggregation of individuals, regional bodies, and national non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) with eyes awake to contemporary secular sterility, along with the political despotism increasingly displayed by an ignorantly enforced globalization. Each participant, therefore, strives to find a productive interconnection within this planetary network of councilors, academics, faith-based groups, state institutions, representatives of culture and the arts, civil society organizations, the media, along with business interests from contradistinct backgrounds who, mindful of their differing positions, still hold fast to the tested and tried principle of respectful co-operation between diverse nodes of interest. Indeed, one of the agreed objectives developed through the WPF is discovered in its aim to galvanize our “worldwide community”, so-called, into a vigorous defense of inherited, traditional, cultural values. By adding a consultative faculty to its everyday functioning, the WPF equally attempts to create an open space for honest and frank discourse among specialists from across our Earth: causing some “globalists” external to this project to raise tentative, albeit ironic, objections to the entire enterprise. Insiders, meanwhile, find themselves given a rarified freedom of expression to defend real diversity on ground-level terms. Hoping to subdue, in the process, the fractious and false fundamentalisms plaguing many of the world’s religious communities, and silencing calls to violent extremism through bringing together representatives of divergent beliefs in a confirmedly inter-confessional encounter! This may be why proportionalist models of moral concurrence officiate as the affective medium of palliative negotiation between everybody concerned.

©David Parry

©David Parry

Audio of David Parry’s recent pagan talk is available on youtube.com. To contact David Parry, follow him on Facebook

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