Whom should I write? [I write] to the one who can read, the one who wants to free him/herself from an erroneous thought, or mostly erroneous. [This would make him/her] transcend in spirit to God, who is disseminated to the reader through his/her readings. He/she might transcend to Christ, who did not write, so that he/she aligns him/herself with those who had understood. Thus, he/she would be able to leap to the spirit of the writer and from him to the minds that come from their hearts, since the heart is the true source of the minds and the imaginary. The assemblages of the minds of all welded cultures with truth and through truth are the abode of divine mind, which is love. I say this in compliance to what is written in the First Epistle of John, in the New Testament, that God is Love. It is my presentiment, concerning this Johannine statement, that love is not an attribute of God’s attributes, which our Holy books contain, rather it is the name of God, the complete name, above which there is no other name. Since God shapes you out of God’s love, and before God’s inclination to you, you receive your knowledge through contemplation. As to God’s knowledge of Godself, God loves you and endows you with [feelings of] belovedness. The human consciousness of yourself comes from feeling your belovedness; thus, you become one with the whole humanity, which views itself as forming the sphere of divine descent.
No matter how different people’s faces, religions and languages are, it is certain that, howsoever existence has been rationalized, [all people] are one. Christ has not died for a faction or for some scattered factions, but for the mass of the whole human race. The Savior has wedded Himself to the one humanity, whatsoever was its affiliation, in its own knowledge of Him. Since Truth is in God’s act toward humanity, in that God associates humanity to Godself and to God’s works, while God’s works are the light of humanity. Humanity has no other light than the light that God radiates over it. Once, it had attracted my attention that Jesus had said to His followers, “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) However, He said it since He said somewhere else, “I am the light of the world” (John 8: 12). Every one of us comes from a gleam of Him, [that radiates] over you and me.
From this unity between Him, and us I write, to arouse the readers to the truth that is in them, so as they know that they are deific or deified. This is a dialogue, since the reader receives the truth pronounced by the writer and becomes it, whenever the writer has become it. That is to say, that the reader writes him/herself whatever he/she reads, and that is only possible whenever he/she humbles him/herself to receive that which has descended upon him/her. At the end of this explanation, the writer, the written text and whatever proceeds from their interaction is one and the same thing.
Loving the one reading me, I give myself to him/her, but I try not to give my sins. Thus, you are not a true writer unless you free yourself from the burden that your self puts upon you, whenever this burden is from the world. However, if God seizes your fingers as you put down a line or a paragraph, then God is the author and you are the written thing. In other words, do not put a letter on paper, a sacred letter, unless freedom from your burdened or impure self descends upon you. Since [this burden] does not free the one who reads you, rather it imprisons you in the impurity that is in you. Hence, art is not for art; plane art does not have a language or an ornament. Beauty is not about popular aesthetics. It is the beauty of the truth, which knows always how to select from within you what purifies you and others. Beauty is sublimity and splendor from above, so that you may not fall into worshipping beauty, or worshipping your own self and destructing yourself in it. Whenever beauty, that you consider it literary, fails to move as splendor to the others’ souls, then, it becomes an enticement in which both the writer and the reader fall.
Literary writing is not preaching, i.e. religious teaching repeated in different expressions. A sermon might be literarily beautiful; since you need that the text crosses to the heart, while the insipid form does not do that. It is possible to master a sermon, nevertheless, it is with the truth, which it holds that both the one who declares it and the one who receives it live. The threat in preaching is to worship the old repeated words, while the old does not descend on the person who lives in his/her own age. You change the words for him/her, in order that he/she might receive the eternal truth latent in the transmitted Word. Yet, the truth would not become a spirit unless it meets the spirit of the listener. The Word is the experienced truth, so that it might create a soul that tastes [the truth] and is transformed [by it].
The people of God, or the Church as Christians call it, are the community of the transformed ones, and in its religious term it is the community of repentants. Those know that they are sinners and that they are nothing unless they eat the divine words poured out for them through living human beings, who have attempted to convert in order to become mediators of the old word, since not only their manner but also their person has been transformed. The style is a skill, namely, it is an instrument in the hand of the one giving the new words, but he is to remain faithful. Whoever has not become the child of grace brings to you dead words, and this is not something eloquent. God would not use you whatsoever you borrow from language-sciences, unless you serve God by turning to Him. You are not a mediator except in your obedience to God. Whoever listens to you remains dead, since he/she receives dead words. However, if you become a new person you can make new people. The new [person] is old, whenever he/she is carried by a soul renewed through love and humility.
Then, why do I write? The more correct answer is that I write so that I might be purified, that I might approach God who urges me to write, that I might speak God’s word, not a word emerging from human desires. I write to recount whatever God has placed on my pen, and I do not have a thing in it. Whenever I do not become one with the written thing I break my pen, and whenever I do not seek to be one with the person who reads me, the one whom I think is receiving God, then I would be doing wrong to him/her. I would be accepting his/her sins, colluding with him/her against my Lord, forming with him/her an [assumedly] educated clique. These words would be “the flowers of evil” as Baudelaire had called it, i.e. poisonous flowers.
This brings upon me my own judgment, and silence in this case is my rescue from the poison. I am a Christian writer, and whenever I feel myself mature in Christianity I would have something to say to all people, since Christ touches all hearts, and the hearts take whatever it can take. The human soul is prepared for Christ. However, this does not mean that I am completely purified. Thus, the wholeness of Christ would not pass across the writing that I employ. The saints live the life of God, though many of them could not write. They have enlightened us and we were illuminated by their light. The writer has always some of his human nature and whenever he is a believer, he is afflicted because of that. Nonetheless, he attempts to be an apostle and the forgiving [God] forgives him when he makes wrong, and whatever passes through [the writing] would pass through. However, the one who is given to write is burdened with the yoke, and he writes since he obeys. And whoever does not obey would have eliminated the talent which he had to utilize in order that God might be glorified through it.
The perfect writer, then, is the one who has been completely purified, the one who has achieved divine enjoyment, since one in both enjoyment and suffering writes. However, suffering sometimes is caused by sin, or by the difficulty of dispensing with sin. There is always a turmoil in the soul that occurs to us as the result of our stumbles, or our attempt to repent from them.
Both rejoicing and suffering write. At any rate, writing takes place as the outcome of astonishment, and with the saints, it is the outcome of amazement [bewilderment], your being amazed [or bewildered] in the presence of divine glory. This means that you have surpassed the pain of transgression. Whoever sinks in it would not have a pen anymore, since he would not be a witness or a spectator of the glory. As for the one who still has a little of love, he necessarily loves a reader whom he does not know.
Whoever writes does not know his readers. He writes the way he writes, the way his pen moves, since this is how he lives and becomes united. [Once] Abi Tammam had been asked, “Why do you write what is not understandable?” He had answered: “Why do you not understand what I write?” You write in your way, in the way you like, to arrive at those who strive to understand. And whenever they feel you they reach at that which you wanted to convey to them. Your consolation in this is that some people have become from the people of God.
Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi
Original Text: “لماذا أكتب؟” –An Nahar- 31-07-2010Continue reading