Aug 25 2015

A Startling Moment of Awakening

Published by at 9:47 am under John Cowper Powys,Perception

From A Philosophy of Solitude (1933), by John Cowper Powys.

Who has not heard of the psychological phenomenon known as Conversion? Well! just as the secular life of contemplation celebrates its own natural Mass, so there must come sometimes to a crowd-poisoned personality a startling moment of awakening that is exactly like a religious Conversion. We suddenly feel as if we had never beheld the actual face of the world before. In shame we recognize how many suns, how many moons, have come and gone, without one real flash of conscious awareness transporting our heavy souls. And we remember in a rush of remorse like the prodigal’s weeping with what a hard, corrupt, averted eye we have caught without catching, and noted without noting, that labouring moon, that melting and liquid landscape, those enchanted hedgerows. It is not merely the aesthetic or the poetical reaction to these things that I have in mind. What I am thinking of is an eternal necessity of human nature, like the eating or drinking of some sort of planetary sacrament, which is neglected at our peril. Yes, you can be as thick-skinned and unpoetical as you please; but there is a primeval necessity, harsh, inhuman, rugged, formidable—not in the least “artistic” or sentimental—about keeping our eye upon sun, moon, earth, sky, sea, and letting our nature grow “native and indued” to these solemn powers.

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