lo peregrino spirito la mira
MY EYES AND I have a bargain: they say what I cannot speak and I tell them what they cannot see.[i] Being in wonder keeps us busy. So the pilgrim spirit's looking through her splendor is an identical inner relation, an intimate respirating exchange between seeing-as-speaking and speaking-as-seeing that produces silence for profit, the plenitude of sense and medium of all real transaction.[ii] "The soundless gathering call, by which Saying moves the world-relation on its way, we call the ringing of stillness. It is: the language of being."[iii] La mira comes here, to the unstopping completion, the quiet saturation from which poetry, or the re-saying of silence, initiates anew "la gioia che mai non fina."[iv] Gazing on her, lo peregrino spirito enters the circumambulation (tawaf, pradakshina) that is the beginningless beginning and endless end of its wandering desire, "the pneumatic circle within which the poetic sign, as it arises from the spirit of the heart, can immediately adhere both to the dictation of that 'spiritual motion' that is love, and to its object."[v] The amorous circulatory system of the sonetto, participating in the trinitarian processions of being it evokes, is inscribed in its subtle self-reflexive numerology, founded on four fives (4+5=9=Beatrice): "cinque parti," 5 rhymes, 14 lines (1+4=5), 4 stanzas + 1 poem = 5.[vi] So the line groupings (2, 2, 4, 3, 3) place Beatrice (9=2+4+3) at the center. What is the point? In keeping with the conjecture that "counting was born in the elaboration of a ritual procession re-enacting the Creation,"[vii] the sonetto processes its own creation in the breath that speaks it, counting in a circle charted by the two persons (lover and beloved) and their personified relation (sospiro/pensero/spirito) so as to arrive, return, and mystically re-arrive at Beatrice. That is easy.[viii] A truer question is where is the point? That is the end of this line, the place of the gaze to which love ever returns by always never being able to leave. [N]
[i] Cf. "to speak is in God to see by thought, forasmuch as the Word is conceived by the gaze of the divine thought" (Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province [New York: Bezinger Brothers, 1947], 1.34.1).
[ii] In one moment (the only moment) of silence / Are dying all of my ideas about silence. / As sound beyond sound, beyond hearing, and beyond / Beyond is the densest openness of silence. / There is an endless loveliness in your eyes while / I am trying to say something about silence. / See the past, present, and future of all language / Created, preserved, and destroyed inside silence. / Speak your heart to me, dear one, whoever you are, / In these uncertain moments enclosed by silence. / Word-truth, our rarely achieved alchemy of sense, / Is a sound transmuting silence into silence. / Keep quiet Nicola, failure of what you know, / While we keep listening for answers in silence. "And Nature, asked by it brings forth works, might answer if it cared to listen and to speak: 'It would have been more becoming to put no question but to learn in silence just as I myself am silent and make no habit of talking. And what is your lesion? This; that whatsoever comes into my being is my vision, seen in my silence, the vision that belongs to my character who, sprung from vision, am vision-loving and create vision by the vision-seeing faculty within me" (Plotinus, Enneads, 3.8.4). "Si cui sileat tumultus carnis, sileant phantasiae terrae et aquarum et aeris, sileant et poli et ipsa sibi anima sileat . . . none hoc est: Intra in gaudium domini tui?" (Augustine, Confessions, Loeb Classical Library [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1951], 9.10). "Silence is nothing merely negative; it is not the mere absence of speech. It is a positive, a complete world in itself. Silence has greatness simply because it is. It is, and that is its greatness, its pure existence. There is no beginning to silence and no end . . . When silence is present, it is as though nothing but silence had ever existed" (Max Picard, The World of Silence, trans. Stanley Godman [Chicago: Regner, 1952], 1. "He who never says anything cannot keep silent at any given moment. Keeping silent authentically is possible only in genuine discoursing. To be able to keep silent, Dasein must have something to say—that is, it must have at its disposal an authentic and rich disclosedness of itself" (Martin Heidegger,Being and Time , trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson [San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1962], I.5.165). "Things that are real are given and received in silence" (Meher Baba).
[iii] Martin Heidegger, "The Nature of Language," in On the Way to Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 108.
[iv] Guido delle Colonne, "Gioiosamente canto," I poeti della scuola Siciliana: Poeti siculo-toscani, ed. Rosario Coluccia (Milano: Mondadori, 2008), 67.
[v] Giorgio Agamben, Stanzas, 128.
[vi] "The sonnet could be divided more subtly, and more subtly clarified; but it may pass with this division, and therefore I do not concern myself to divide it any further" (Vita Nuova, 41:9). I proceed through some trinitarian passages. "The same appetite with which one longs open-mouthed to know a thing becomes love of the thing known when it holds and embraces the acceptable offspring, that is knowledge, and joins it to its begetter. And so you have a certain image of the trinity, the mind itself and its knowledge, which is its offspring and its words about itself, and love as the third element, and these three are one (1 Jn 5:8) and are one substance" (Augustine, The Trinity, trans. Edmund Hill [Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1991], 9.3). "[T]he Son proceeds by way of the intellect as Word, and the Holy Ghost by way of the will as Love. Now love must proceed from a word. For we do not love anything unless we apprehend it by a mental conception. Hence also in this way it is manifest that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the son. . . . Therefore in rational creatures, possessing intellect and will, there is found the representation of the Trinity by way of image, inasmuch as there is found in them the word conceived, and the love proceeding" (Aquinas, Summa theologica, 1.36.2, 1.45.7). "The ecstatical unity of temporality—that is, the unity of the 'outside-of-itself' in the raptures of the future, of what has been, and of the Present—is the condition for the possibility that there can be an entity which exists as its 'there'" (Heidegger, Being and Time, 2.469). "The fact is, that when the latent infinite trio-nature of God is gradually manifested out of the gradual projection of the finite Nothing, and when it simultaneously protrudes the projection
of the finite Nothing as Nothingness manifested ad infinitum,this very same infinite trio-nature of God, at this stage of manifestation, becomes enmeshed in the apparent and false infinity of the Nothingness and thus gets itself expressed as the finite triple nature of man with capabilities demonstrated ad infinitum. How (1) the mind, (2) the energy and (3) the body, as the triple nature of man, demonstrate their capabilities ad infinitum in Illusion is clearly experienced (1) through the inventive mind of a scientist, who finds no end to discoveries and inventions; (2) through the release of nuclear energy in Illusion, which has reached a stage where it threatens with its own force of illusion to destroy the very Nothingness out of which it emerged and evolved into such a terrific force; (3) through the body (typifying happiness) which, now keeping pace with the advanced progress of the evolution of the Nothing, is infinitely urged to seek greater and greater happiness to such an extent that happiness actually becomes the very basis of the life of illusion. The only reason for such infinite demonstration in the field of Nothingness (which is Illusion) is because the basic finite triple nature of man—energy, mind and happiness of Nothingness—is upheld and stretched out ad infinitum by the basic infinite trio-nature of God—infinite power, infinite knowledge and infinite bliss of Everything" (Meher Baba, God Speaks, 90-1).
[vii] T. Koetsier and L. Bergmans, "Introduction," Mathematics and the Divine: An Historical Study (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2008), 13.
[viii] The movement through the imagistic steps of the sonetto is of course more complex and involves several eddying, microcosmic motions. At this level we begin already beyond the widest sphere, then penetrate it from this side via Love's weeping in a motion that is virtually re-initiated from the heart in a kind of syntactic time-warp. Then thought's arrival at the lady and its getting lost in the epicycles of honor and splendor and gazing. Then the sigh's subtle retelling of the gaze caused by a secondary motion of the heart that first moved it. Then the mystical understanding of thought's unintelligible speech through an apophatic anamnesis of the beloved's name. And finally a gentle expansion into a refined social atmosphere.