Don’t be upset Derren Brown!

I have just picked up my old and battered copy of one of my favourite books, The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen, and was very struck by the quotation on its first page. Some words from Rainer Maria Rilke.

That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called ‘visions’, the whole so-called ‘spirit world’, death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out by life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied. To say nothing of God.

Peter Matthiessen is still alive and well  at the age of 82 and is a zen priest, has twice won the US National Book Award, was part of the first team to photograph the Great White Shark in its own underwater domain and wrote a stirring and saddening hymn/elegy to the Crane.

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