The Pneumatic Bleat
That was no joke, because if you look at Schuon's corpus, you will see that his primary mode of expression was the brief and luminous Blast from the depths of O. He never sustained this for the course of an entire book, because no man could. Rather, his books are (almost) all collections of these simultaneously epic and miniature Depth Charges, which is one reason why they don't sell particularly well, for I have been told that books of essays never do.
But to call them "essays" is like calling... something... a something, or something (coffee hasn't kicked in yet). Really, it's a new spiritual form of expression. Well, maybe not new. The prophets obviously didn't write any books, nor did Jesus, Buddha, or even Bob Dobbs.
In fact, nor did Aurobindo write any books, the 35 volumes of the complete works notwithstanding. Come to think of it, this was one of the first things that intrigued me about him, in that he produced all of this material in a relatively brief period of time by merely downloading it from beyond, so to speak, with no real plan or preconceptions, and certainly no eye on the book-buying public.
Rather, he just sat there in his little room and banged it out. I don't think he had any idea what "he" thought -- or he "thought" -- about this or that or all this is That! until it came out of him. They say that jazz is "the sound of surprise." I guess this mode of writing is the... something of surprise (what, is this decaf?!).
Let me look it up and see if I can find some more explicit details about the process, as this post meanders along and tries to implicitly demonstrate it.
Says here that "in the four years of his stay in Pondicherry, he had filled many notebooks with brief annotations and essays on the Vedas and Upanishads, comparative linguistics and a lot of other subjects -- all the while involved in the intensive yoga which he was practicing constantly." (I've seen these notebooks, and they're legible but indecipherable.)
Someone came up with the idea of publishing a periodical, and almost all of his important works were serialized during the seven years of its existence. Van Vrekhem says that they "were not destined for the general public, but for the few for whom the world, as it is, is no longer livable and who, from the bottom of their heart, long for something else, something more worthwhile."
Everything was based on, and rooted in, experience. Thus, it would be incorrect to call it "theology" in the western sense of the term. Again, it is more like a spiritual diary, or an ongoing record of O --> (n), as we call it in the book:
"I was never satisfied till experience came and it was on this experience that later on I founded my philosophy, not on ideas by themselves. I owed nothing in my philosophy to intellectual abstractions, ratiocination or dialectics; when I have used these means it was simply to explain my philosophy and justify it to the intellect of others.
"The other source of my philosophy was the knowledge that flowed from above when I sat in meditation, especially from the plane of the Higher Mind when I reached that level. They [the ideas of the Higher Mind] came down in a mighty flood which swelled into a sea of direct Knowledge always translating itself into experience, or they were intuitions starting from an experience and leading to other intuitions and a corresponding experience" (Aurobindo, in a letter to a sadhak).
I don't know about you, but I'm relating to this description. Let's continue: "This source was exceedingly catholic and many-sided and all sorts of ideas came in which might have belonged to conflicting philosophies but they were here reconciled in a large synthetic whole."
Thus, it would also be an error to refer to this as "philosophy" in the modern sense. In fact, "there is very little argument in my philosophy.... What is there is a harmonizing of the different parts of a many-sided knowledge so that all is united logically together. But it is not by force of logical argument that it is done, but by a clear vision of the relations and sequences of Knowledge."
A little more. Van Vrekhem says that "this enormous 'mental' activity" actually "used as its instruments a completely inactive brain and fingers that typed directly on a prehistoric Remington what was inspired into them, including the corrections" (with no coffee, either). It might be 110 degrees in the summer with, of course, no air conditioning, but there he would be, "concentrated in his work, though according to eye witnesses he was perspiring so much that his sweat dripped on the floor."
Now, "a synthetic, non-linear way of thinking or seeing is very complex and difficult to formulate in language," especially when "one wants to express oneself adequately and completely throughout... " (Van Vrekhem). Note also how the following description of Aurobindo's writing by Satprem accords with our own recent discussions of how language may be a vehicle of (≈): "it contains the vibration of the experience, almost the quality of light of the particular world it touches, and through the words... one can come into contact with the experience."
This may sound mysterious, which it is, but actually no less mysterious than the human capacity to transmit any thought between two minds. Sertillanges discusses this in The Intellectual Life, where he writes that....
Wait, before getting to that, I just found another passage, in which Sertallanges describes (≈): "Contact with writers of genius procures us the immediate advantage of lifting us to a higher plane," which confers "benefit on us even before teaching us anything. They set the tone for us; they accustom us to the air of the mountaintops. We were moving in a lower region; they bring us at one stroke into their own atmosphere," or atmasphere.
Also, "he gives us claim to the domains that he has conquered and cleared, sowed and tilled. He invites us to share at the hour of harvest." He gives access to "an unsuspected light, in the heart of a connected system which is a sort of new creation -- that reality which was there, obvious, and which we did not see." For this reason it's probably safe to say that you learn more from the errors of a genius than the "truths" of an idiot.
Back to that quote about the mystery of communication: "strictly speaking, thought is incommunicable from man to man." "The idea does not reach us from without." Rather, "it is necessarily within us that it must come to birth." Thus the orthoparadox that we must read with the soul in order to awaken the soul.
In any event, all we're really trying to do here is have a genuine encounter with O and then memorialize it in language. That's it. But that becomes inherently stressful if you begin making demands on it, or, more to the point, when the process is turned "outward," toward an audience.
Come to think of it, I'll bet that's one reason why Van Morrison has such an ambivalent relationship to his audience. In a way, he's trying to produce something for an audience that won't happen if he "tries" or if he is too focussed on the audience. So to criticize my writing is kind of beside the point, because all you're really saying is that it failed to awaken the Idea in you. All comments are inadvertent autobiography, or pneumatic bleat.