Sunday, February 24, 2013

Synchronicity

Two weeks ago, I am passing by Watkins, the long running esoteric bookshop in Cecil Court, London and drop in for a moment, not thinking to buy or indeed look for anything in particular.

In the comparative religion section, I see a book, 'Fathomless Heart' and take a look. It is by a Lewis Thompson (of whom I have never knowingly heard) and is subtitled, 'The Spiritual and Philosophical Reflections of an English Poet-Sage'. Further looking tells me that he may be of some interest having been a writer who went 'East' (in this case to India) in the 1930s and whose work grew out of his dialogue between India and a Western poetic tradition, a mention that this tradition included Blake and Yeats and my attention is arrested and deepened.

I open a page in Richard Lannoy's biographical introduction and discover that his first living contact with India was watching a performance of Uday Shankar's dance troupe in England as a young man. It is watching the same troupe in India, some years later, that led my dearest friend to learn dance with Shankar as his only permanent English pupil.

I look at the endorsements on the back - they are from eclectic sources - writers, poets, Indian scholars and comparative religionists. Four of the six I recognise (and trust).

I buy the book, expecting to put it on the never ending pile of things to be read in some due course that sometimes never quite arrives...

But I am intrigued and keep dipping in. The book is organised in discrete sections of aphorisms and (very) short essays. The language, though pellucid and precise, is being used (akin here to Blake) in a very particular and personal way (and key words are capitalised): what does he mean by Luxury for example?

I need to read it, beginning with the preface and introduction, but have already decided to read his journals as well, that I see are also in print, and order them and take the book to South Africa with me.

I have little time in South Africa but I do find time to read the introductory material and begin the text. I am excited by what I think I am understanding. I arrive at home to discover three packages - the two volumes of the Journals (that I know as I have ordered them) and the latest edition of the magazine 'Resurgence'.

I open all three, put the Journals aside, and open 'Resurgence' at random at the page where Guy Watson is reviewing, 'Fathomless Heart' (which was published in 2011)...

I love the world's sense of humour (and confirmation)!

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