Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Am Not Crazy, Arguably

From Thomas Merton's autobiography THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN: "I sat for hours, with the big quarto volumes of the Jesuit Father Wieger's French translations of hundreds of strange Oriental texts. I have forgotten the titles, even the authors, and I never understood a word of what they said in the first place. I had the habit of reading fast, without stopping... The only practical thing I got out of it was a system for going to sleep... You lay flat in a bed, without a pillow... and you said to yourself: 'Now I have no feet, now I have no feet... no feet... no legs... no knees.' ... The only section with which it almost never worked was my head." So, see? I am not crazy and was pretty close when I mentioned a possible inspiration for the technique used in the new Nabokov release, to which no reviewer has alluded, I think. On the other hand, I may be crazy because I have spent all day looking up this stuff. Note: obviously, the passage cited above refers to Merton as a young man, before he became an expert on certain aspects of Asian philosophy.