Saturday, February 03, 2007

Schall Phenomenology and Mahfouz

What a day! My book orders finally came in. Fr. Schall's long-awaited (for me) The Sum Total of Human Happiness is here along with Phenomenology and the Theological Turn: The French Debate by Dominique Janicaud, Jean-Francois Courtine, Jean-Louis Chretien, Michel Henry, Jean-Luc Marion, Paul Ricoeur. The two both look like very rewarding reads.

In glancing at the latter, I was struck by the title of an essay from Jean-Louis Chrétien: "The Wounded Word: Phenomenology of Prayer." I will be reading this one tonight, then onto Jean-Luc Marion's "The Saturated Phenomenon" for my phenomenology class.

A word about Fr. Schall's book. The book begins with six citations which, according to Fr. Schall, express the "spirit of this book." They are from Augustine, Tolkien, Aquinas, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, Chesterton, and Plato. The citations are all worth reading and doing so pensively, for they are pregnant with so much that should lead one to the greater view of The Sum Total of Human Happiness.

The citation from Ratzinger is taken from his interview published in English as Salt of the Earth:

History as a whole is the struggle between love and the inability to love, between love and the refusal to love. This is also, in fact, something we are experiencing again today, when man’s independence is pushed to the point where he says: I don’t want to love at all because then I make myself dependent and that contradicts my freedom. Indeed, love means being dependant on something that perhaps can be taken away from me, and it therefore introduces a huge risk of suffering into my life.

And lastly, yes, that was Mahfouz up above. I also received his book, The Dreams, which Amazon describes as:

In this new collection of his shortest short stories, the Egyptian Nobel laureate has reduced fictional form to its most essential level, while retaining his justifiably famous mastery of the storytelling art.

A man finds that all the streets in this neighborhood have turned into a circus - but his joy at the sight changes to anger when he sees he cannot escape it anywhere, even in his own home. A group of lifelong friends meet to trade jokes in a familiar alley - only to face a sudden, deadly flood that echoes the revenge taken by an ancient Egyptian queen upon the men who murdered her husband. A girl from the dreamer’s childhood flies with him from his native land on a cart drawn by a winged horse, to become a star in the firmament above the Great Pyramid.

Such is the stuff of Naguib Mahfouz’s The Dreams - his first major work since a knife attack by a religious fanatic in 1994 left him unable to write for several years. First serialized in a Cairo magazine, The Dreams is a unique and haunting mixture of the deceptively quotidian, the seductively lyrical, and the savagely nightmarish - the richly condensed sum of more than nine decades of artistic genius and everyday experience.

From the few "Dreams" I have read already, this should live up to the expectations, the high ones, I had when I purchased the book. And just in case you are interested, most of his works are worth reading. Very glad (and increasingly intrigued) with this ongoing quest of mine to read Arabic- and/or Islamic-based texts, both fiction and non-fiction.

No comments: