Used to be one of my favorite short stories and have long since forgotten. I guess when one grows and tries to gather meaning from books and shows, this somehow subtly stood apart. Written in plain words with no complex plots. A story that reminds one of long lost friends and responsibilities with an exquisite undertone of genius. Rather hard to explain now but was distinctly powerful in conveying morality to a little kid once. Enough talk, here you go.
You have to take risks, he said. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen. Every day, God gives us the sun–and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy. Every day, we try to pretend that we haven’t perceived that moment, that it doesn’t exist–that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment. It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our front-door key in the lock; it may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us. But that moment exists–a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles.
— Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
Speechless. Life has its odd ways of testing one’s resolve but when the moment of clarity does dawn, sieze it. Intuition always guides in the right path. They say, that it’s being impulsive but we are different. For better or worse, ignorant as often we are to see, follow without regrets, and perform that miracle.
I have heard about the legend of Faust before but never had the chance to read it. As destiny would have it, I recently stumbled upon Faust again, one of the works by Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), the one that made him apparently famous in the literary world of then Europe.
For the past few days, piecemeal I’ve read and it is beautiful. My only regret is that I did not discover this gem before.
The tale of Faust is supposed to be Goethe’s greatest work into which he poured a lifetime of experience; the entire work took him his whole life and he finished the second part only a year before his demise. The literary work is written as a play (a poetical drama actually) and it portrays an interplay of religion, the supernatural, love, tragedy and the surreal. To give you an introduction about Faust, here’s a brief synopsis.
Faust is an old man, a sage or an alchemist, wise, learned and very pious. We see a conversation between God and Mephistopheles (satan) in which God remarks that Mephistopheles may try all he likes to tempt Faust; God is confident that Faust is too moral an individual to be tempted by anything. Mephistopheles sets to work, appearing to Faust and conversing with him. Faust is weary of life, and Mephistopheles is soon able to convince him that he could sample something more.
The story concerns the fate of Faust in his quest for the true essence of life. Frustrated with learning and the limits to his knowledge and power, he attracts the attention of the Devil (Mephistopheles), who agrees to serve Faust until the moment he attains the zenith of human happiness, at which point Mephistopheles may take his soul. Faust is pleased with the deal, as he believes the moment will never come.
In the first part, Mephistopheles leads Faust through experiences that culminate in a lustful and destructive relationship with an innocent and nubile woman named Gretchen. Gretchen and her family are destroyed by Mephistopheles’ deceptions and Faust’s desires and actions. The story ends in tragedy as Gretchen is saved and Faust is left in shame.
The second part begins with the spirits of the earth forgiving Faust (and the rest of mankind) and progresses into rich allegorical poetry. Faust and his devil pass through the world of politics and the world of the classical gods, and meet with Helen of Troy (the personification of beauty). Finally, having succeeded in taming the very forces of war and nature Faust experiences a single moment of happiness.
The devil Mephistopheles, trying to grab Faust’s soul when he dies, is frustrated as the Lord intervenes — recognizing the value of Faust’s unending striving.
This has been one of the most interesting drama’s I have ever read. It portrays one of the imminent weaknesses of the human kind; The quest for knowledge and the impossibility to attain enlightenment without the passion. And It punches in all that with philosophical poetry. Enough said. Go grab a copy now and enjoy it.
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