In Route: Examples In sanity

Have you heard of Simeon Styletes? He was a Christian ascetic from near 200ce in Persia, I believe, who sat up on a 50 foot pillar for like 40 years (40 years !!). I guess his whole life was in effort to get away from people and to devote himself to God, cuz he went into a monastery when he was young but they kicked him out for being too ascetic. He went in a cave first for a couple years, but people had heard of him, thought he was a saint, and so bothered him all the time. The pole, it seems, was so he could more thoroughly devote himself to God.

I’ve heard his whole sustenance was lettuce, which people would give to him from a long stick. And his excrement would petrify in the heat and people would take them as holy relics.

Other ascetics also abounded back then. Archeologists excavating monasteries from the early Christian Era would find these little rooms with no apparent doors or way to enter them. After excavating them they figured out what they were. The floors of some of these rooms had layers of (2000 year old) excrement and some had human skeletons. The archeologists surmised that these rooms were for ascetic practice; the monk would go into the little room and then seal himself in with a little hole for food and water. Some would die in there.

I’m sure you have heard of the flagellants. They were particularly famous in the Black Death; when nothing seemed to be relieving the plague, some (many enough) figured it was Gods wrath, and so walked around town to town flailing themselves in repentance earning others to join them.


There is a whole history of people rebuking themselves for the sake of some spiritual endeavor, the art of which rose to new heights with Christianity. It is based in an extreme form of the idea of discrepancy between spirit and body. The apparent stubbornness of habitual or conditioned thoughts that do not conform with other more spiritual thoughts reduce and emphasize for many this basic divide of spirit and body, for such markers become analogies that characterize thoughts to be attributes of such polemics. It is easy to point at the world, and accuse and try to make the world appeal to reason, but when it is oneself, the pointing can get quite nasty; only those who are of a particular sensitivity renounce the ‘outside world route’, but then they are left with themselves, and the world that resides in them.

It is not difficult to see that this sort of conceptual discrepancy or mythical analytic construction is at work everywhere, and it can be seen to characterize what we know as history. The inability for people to reconcile certain thoughts to other thoughts is the basis for our current paradigm of spiritual religious reckoning, indeed, of our current historical- political situation, how people coordinate themselves to groups that advocate a particular way to reconcile the discrepancy. Of course, this is a vast over estimation, but there is a seed root of veracity here.

Such a discrepancy seems innate to being human. It seems to be a characteristic of being human that an overwhelming majority of people will not be able to find a sensible and non-violent (that which does not aggravate through blatant denial) reconciliation of themselves in the world. Just this fact in itself opens up a cornucopia of topics.

Here is a tentative offering of a speculative sort.

History is capable of being viewed as a dealing with this apparent issue that cannot be solved. At every juncture, the group, presented as masses of human beings arrive on the scene, is assessed and a solution is put forward. The solution addresses some of the individuals situations but the remaining people who’s problem was not solved, or only partly solved, are left still wondering. The group is assessed again, and a solution applied, and still, most remain unsatisfied.

Prophets are seen to advocate the necessity of reconciliation. But the prophets job is not to bring about a change; this is evident from the OT Biblical prophets. For if the prophets were sent by God to deliver a message, the message had the same effect as any other proposed solution; only some heard but most did not or could not. But in so much as the prophet did indeed become privy to Gods communication, then the true meaning of the communication cannot be said to reside at the moment of the communication any more than any other type of solution for various problems; in consideration of what we come upon, the prophets attain their effectiveness inso much as their message is was delivered unto the future. In this way we can then say that the prophets job is to insist upon an immanent and dire present situation that needs be addressed now, but that the situation is effectively eternal, which can be to say, ‘for a history of the future’.


It is also not difficult to see how discourses arise in response to the ongoing and persistent discrepancy. If the ancient Greeks, near 3000 years ago, Heraclitus and Socrates in particular, to name two, were pondering what must have seemed ‘new’ at the time, a moment wherein the discrepancy erupted as a known experience, then the messianic social event that occurred around the Mediterranean near 2000 years ago was an indication of the development that continued from the marking that was noticed in a particular fashion by the Greeks, such that it returned as a solution to the Greeks in that they were the ones who ‘popularized’ the writings about this solution to their 1000 or so year old problem. Nevermind that Abraham wandered around the south east Mediterranean near the same time as the ancient Greek philosophers sat in their drinking halls; say it is a geographic and cultural manifestation.

(For now, we will set aside the Eastern presentation.)

This solution of the Hebrews thus took hold in the northern Mediterranean and Europe as a social event, and the substrative route was laid for progressive discourse for the next 1200 some years, if not even to this present day, the progress that is marked as a type in its envisioning of solution of the aggravating discrepancy. Yet when this solution does not work for the predominance of people, indeed exponentially more and more people, the imperative that is the endeavor for solution, which is inherent in the manifestation of human consciousness, represented in the conglomerate that is the unreconciled populace, whether they cognitively know it individually or not, asserts its agenda, which is the demand for solution. This demand does not view itself with such detachment, with such survey, as a history for the future; no, it sees itself with reference to The past as toward a future. Application needs be haved now. So it is the past is looked to as representative of success and failure, such that each may be used to refine the application for now. But in as much as the problem is persistent, as to the discrepancy addressed here, the past is primarily looked to for evidence of what has not worked. After 1200 hundred years of applied spiritual solution upon a basic substrate, the period we call the Middle Ages of Europe, from Aristotle to probably Scholasticism, eventually the substrate was played out, its routes traversed enough that the only route left was to change the substrate. Again, this does not necessarily occur due to some ‘ah ha ‘ moment, but more due to some social imperative where enough people are not content in the route’s ability to find solution; for a while, so long as the route holds still a reasonable possibility for solution, the route still stays the true route, holds reality in its truth function and defines the individual’s method for knowing itself. Then, when the route has played out, people situate another route. This ‘new’ route, following this European model here, could be said to be the ‘enlightenment’, or the Renaissance, and Descartes is often said to be the one who spelled out how this new route was to take shape, though many were involved in shaping the route.

The route, whatever its situation in history, whether ‘new’ or ‘old’, is always is looked upon as ‘real’, which is to say, as ‘now we have enough information from the past to establish what is actually true’, and solutions are applied always toward a grand solution that is proposed to be held at the end of the process of finding truth that the people are involved with in the effort of applying a solution. In one sense, the new always accounts for the old, but in another sense, the new is always already the old, for there was no human situation that did not belong to the condition of the real individual, which is discrepant.

In reality such contradiction is always denied in the acting upon the route; the solution to the discrepancy is always viewed with reference to the route’s potential. In reality, people view their purpose with reference to the problem that needs a solution, but the manner through which the series (problem-solution) is set has already given the condition by which the series may be termed, and thus meant, and always in reference to the particular route accorded to the condition of the route, as to its possibility of having or containing the possibility of solution. Presently, it seems, the route particular to our moment, is showing its failure.

Such discourse of history is always a social event, always of the pure multiple, of the ordination of reality. What concerns us, though, is the confusion that arises faced with a history that seems to inform our ability and capacity to view the truth. Hence the question of one’s orientation upon the Object, as well as faith in the True Object. What concerns us, so far as a human consciousness is concerned, is the individual of reality, and how such an individual may be determined in reality, which is to say, how real freedom leads to still more discrepancy. It seems like the old adage that says “insanity is doing the same thing, and expecting different results”. The insanity is the romantic view, but ironically, it is the Romance itself that leads one out of the chaotic relationship; what is romantic leads one on, manipulating and deceiving in a power play of want and desire, where the Romance fulfills love and brings truth in union. Hence we can speak of a ‘co-dependent’ reality, an ‘addicted’ reality, the ‘abusive’ reality, where despite the problem, the problem persists due to an incessant operation of denial, or its ‘positive’ formation, faith. So ubiquitous reality is, though, to speak with such adjectives still leads one along the route, and at that, of real insanity.

Who or what is speaking? To what or from where does the discourse indicate its solution?

I gotta say: the answer to both is always real but not always true.


  1. I found another somewhat interesting example in in-sanity, in-light also of our discussion on the significant event:

    St. Seraphim of Sarov would always greet people with “Christ is risen!” on a daily basis, even if it was not when conventionally people today (and back then) say that phrase, on Easter morning.

  2. “When the monastic Elders living in the desert heard about Simeon, who had chosen a new and strange form of asceticism, they wanted to test him to determine whether his extreme feats were founded in humility or pride. They decided to tell Simeon under obedience to come down from the pillar. They decided that if he disobeyed they would forcibly drag him to the ground, but if he was willing to submit, they were to leave him on his pillar. St Simeon displayed complete obedience and humility, and the monks told him to stay where he was”

    This is crucial, methinks. What is going on in this strange logic? An invitation and a response… also notice the language of determine, decisions, force, testing, leaving, etc. In relation to pride, humility, and Ego. You say “in route” like St. Augustine’s pilgrims…

    1. I was pointing to the strange things people do in the name of God. But more particularly, what might be going on that people would or could do such things.

      1) will. If someone got in their mind that there are holy things to do, things that are more God-like or God likable as opposed to what ever condition they lump themselves into as a human being, then they might have a gumption to choose a number of activities that is a trial or test of their faith, such as fasting or setting on a pole or flogging oneself. The idea that what ever ‘normal’ human is is some how no worthy, and so one must do special acts. These might be difficult to do, and so seem all the more God likable, because then one is proving to God that he should be likable and worthy to God.

      2) reality. The perception or view upon activity as falling into an arena of such polarity. Here, people choose to do strange things for God and such things might give another person inspiration to ‘take up their cross’ and do some weird penitent thing that shows how faithful or devoted they are. Such a view can have dried shit become a holy relic and can make fun of people who would sit on a pole for 40 years.

      3) not real. Here, Simeon had no choice. The things he did were exactly in his book of doing things and there was never a thought about how he might be showing a God how worthy he is except that he was.

      The point I think is that the ‘history’ of Simeon was not written by Simeon. He was not doing anything for the sake of history, and was not doing anything becuase he chose to. The test of the monks was for the monks, not for Simeon. For the test shows that the monks really ‘have no faith’ or rather live in reality of tests of faith. Simeon was doing only for God. All real indication that would ask of devotion is moot.

      But also in that is was written by those of real faith, we should not lose sight of that what is done occurs with God, but that we question and attempt to qualify a real deed to ethical standards, we are having faith, and not such much doing Gods will except that we hope we are.

      And yet, how would one discern whether one is doing Gods will? Are there signs?

      Here we come to the basis of the romance. As i see it, It is not so much that there are signs, but that we react to them as they are significant. We see a sign and get excited and add up a string of meaning. Indeed, this is why I liked your pocket veto, because it seemed to me that you were saying that you could add these up and yet have a certain ‘veto’ power to keep the significance in check so as to allow the continuation of the romance. This veto then would allow for inspiration from God to continue as an effective communication of faith with God. But then one of the repercussions is that the romance is romantic and cannot avoid the vacillations of passionate love, and of course which can lead to eccentric acts of devotion.

      The question here then be what the difference between such two routes by which people act for Gods will.


      Philosophy likewise can be distinguished in this same way. Much and most of philosophy is taking from reality about reality. Here no matter what topics are talked about, no matter how one phrases meaning, no matter what meaning is meant, all of it stems from and assumes a basic, foundational, encompassing and universal true reality that brings and or ‘gives’ true history and pasts, such that philosophy attempts to get at the real One truth, the description of the One thing that supposedly we all are a part of.

      When I look at Simeon, I see a person who was made part of the One reality through history. A history of the future, so to speak. I do not believe that anyone can will themselves to such achievement, or if they do or can, that they are effectively of a power that is real, and as there are then two bases of power, we have to ask how such bases allow for an ethical universe and what it means.

      Actually, I should not say ‘I do not believe’, perhaps it would be more proper to say: ‘ discourse is situated in the occasion to suggest that the notion of Will itself is at issue’. For what is it to believe?

      What does it mean, ‘presence’? Devotion I don’t think is a good enough marker. Are we merely present as an approach? Against an overwhelming total ‘tide’ of real historical real-true things?

      1. “The way out is through”

        1) Will. The stated or expressed ideal, of course, seems to be repudiation of the will. Ascetic ideal, as discussed in Nietzsche and others, as placed on display in the story of Zarathustra and the dwarf. Ah yes, oftentimes the spirit of gravity falls on my shoulders. “Heavy heavy hangs over your head, what are you going to do with it?” Bite it off! — or, at least, so goes the story… bite off that snake writhing there inside your throat… but this quick bite of the absolute repudiation does not seem to “let it linger” THROUGH things as it were, instead much too quickly receding into the (we seem to agree: illusory, false, exaggerated, etc.) safety OUT of absolute knowledge rather than remaining open to a more substantial not-knowingness with all of its associated vulnerability. My difficulty comes in that I don’t normally weigh this “divine” possibility (the one I keep running up against, the one we both recognize as possibility) in the same way as most people do in discourse.

        Call it some strange quirk of mine. I fall back on it still a bit too often, in my day to day life for instance, except for those more rare “shining” moments of felt and bodily enactment where things in the situation really are at stake, i.e. the moment it is clear to me, where I do actively perceive this substantialness without the mediation of concepts. I say “fall back” in discourse, but it is not simple laziness or uselessness at work, but work at a higher determination of things which has a different dynamic entirely, i.e. words aren’t there “yet”, hence the difficulty in speaking. In execution, insofar as I really do apply this not-higher technique we are discussing consistently, you will find none of this difficulty in me. It disappears entirely. Moreover, for you this “beyond…” possibility is not so incredible or fascinating, but I hold it is not is it a simple matter of mere incredulity for me, either.

        2) Reality. Whatever inconsistency I may have owing to an insufferable hidden “will” or passionate “agenda” that I might have for higher things, it yields (of course) to the messy reality, to your situation of terms in this more useful, discursive manner until its usefulness (if any) can finally be readily demonstrated and communicated to others. I can’t really *say* anything beyond as definitive. I regularly have vague, intuitive “hunches” of so-called divine things, expressed secondhand in many (others would perceive) ‘silly’ theories that I don’t really believe right now. But, OK, the real importance here notwithstanding anything else is a passage through the question: “What do you really think?” or something of the sort, that provides consistency in thinking. The mystification of the higher does inspire people, to an extent, with its re-enchantment of the world, conjuring of forms, etc. despite its un-importance, or it may encourage somebody to step up and really do the impossible, by inspiring at first a passion for the impossible, or something to the effect. I mean, that’s how it is been happening for me in real life. But I hold a place in my “soul” so to speak for the life of the higher which is often solitary and highly pro-phetic/pro-ductive in its own inexpressible way. In reality it seems otherwise, that we need to relate with other people, that this removed life is not productive or else not fully alive, etc. Truth is, even the pole-sitter related with others, like the monks, if only minimally so. (But I am willing to consider seriously the sense in which a mere pole-sitter is highly productive in society!)

        But, along this route we are on, if we see a pole-sitter, we may pass them by and keep going… but things like that stick with me, for some unknown reason. If I stare for too long in my own world, you just have to tug on my shirt or something so to snap me out of it and I will gladly keep walking with you.

        3) Not real. In this situation, Simeon may not have had a choice, I am mostly ignorant of the situation. I am interested, however, in those who do really recognize that they do have a choice and that they choose (you would probably say decide, as in “to cut off”… but then again you are never alone, never so “cut off” as one might think… in other words it appears that something like this can also be, for some people, a situation in which “there is no decision to make”) to … “leave the world” — or at least places with lots of people, noise, stress, and so forth — temporarily so to “live deliberately” as it were in a Thoreau-esque manner. Or whatever. A bit more simple and quieter life than conventional living, a certain pragmatic frugality yet perhaps still somewhat abstracted or distanced from things in the world. It’s imbalanced, insofar as it proves too abstracted from reality.

        ((P.S. I have a small gift for you, if you will accept it … e-mail at inthesaltmine @ …))

      2. As an analogy addressing non-philosophical decision, but maybe more correctly, the ‘cision’:
        If I have a length of rope and I cut it in two, I have two lengths of rope, not one. The issue appears to me to be in the effort to reunite the two lengths back into one length.

        More in a bit.

      3. …but indeed we could say the situation of the two lengths is one situation. Yet it is not some much that we began with one, but that we have always had two and have been in the attempt to reunite them as one that has been presumed to have been its original state.

        As to discourse, Reality can be said to be one of the lengths. But it’s motion, it’s nature, is to presume the incorporation of the second with itself the One length. The second lengths nature is in the actuality of the separation, and it’s voice, by virtue of the real situation of terms, is ironic. Thus the ‘whole’ is accounted for in ironic terms.

      4. …that was a very simple way of saying these things, thank you. Perhaps the simplest you’ve described to date.

      5. I could not have formulated such a way of speaking without our interaction. The light that is you; namaste.

        The clincher about this situation analogy of the string becomes more apparent when we see that reality concerns choice and free will: there is no ‘cutting of the string’ by free will; one cannot choose to cut the string.

        For one, because it has already ‘been cut’, or rather, is already two. But more so because the effect of reality is to hold all routes. The imperative of consciousness to have true objects establishes a faith that cannot be ‘willed’ or chosen out of. Only the object of such faith can ‘cut the string’.

        For as it seem you are encountering, the will or ego, depending on how we are defining things, is like a hydra; in reality every time we cut off a head, another one appears – reality always stays to recoup its losses.

        Such it is I suggest that perhaps there is a way to bring the ‘silence’ that is ‘the revelation’ into reality, for it seems there should be a way. And it seems to me to have something to do with what I thought I understood of your pocket veto. It is just that I am incapable of this task, or so it might seem.

        Somehow, though, it seems the object being let to be its own achieves the desired ‘cutting but pasting’. My view stems from the situation that allows for the view; a kind of perpetual receding, a resituating upon re situation. So it is the object ‘stays’ and I speak about its necessity of viewing. What seems to me to be the issue has to do this with Will, since reality is assertion of will upon the changeable object.

    2. We think a little deeper now. Here we have an apparently strange act committed under the self admitted rubric of Devotion to God.

      Two perspectives here:
      The ‘outer’ –
      How do I the observer know if indeed this person is acting of God?

      The ‘inner’-
      The person asserting their devotion. The actual situation of the person to his own self.

      Let’s take the latter first.

      He believes in the act of devotion as an ethical motion, that he Should, he Ought to.


      He has only the knowledge that the act is what he does.

      In the first, what is difficult justifies his act. In the second, what is difficult is in it supposing to be difficult, which is to say, the act of devotion to God is not difficult but the ethical justification is.

      Now let’s look at the former situation; the outer.

      What is this experience ?

      If I know, as in the case of the preacher, that he is indeed of God, then my experience is not difficult. The significance of the experience is that it is justified by God in so much as here is my experience of someone else who ‘knows’.

      But what if I think he is not of God?

      On one hand I can take him at his word, and say he believes he is of God and so it is true. With this it would seem I am acknowledging a contradiction. 1)that what I experience of God is true. 2) that what he experiences is true.

      On the other hand, I can say what he believes is false. That he is delusional.

      In the first I am acknowledging that there is no one truth, or I am acknowledging the possibility of multiple Gods, or I extend the truth to a length that says ‘God is mysterious and I can not know his ways but what I know of my own path is true and so will follow it’.

      Now what I have done here is stopped with faith. I have investigated until that point where I may be offended and put the rest ‘in Gods hands’.

      Now what have I done here? I have asserted my violence is reconciled in a transcendent and call it non-violence. And by this I have done nothing more that act as an existentialist. The murderer and the rapist become false only in as much as I default my position to reality. For as I extend such reasoning to activity for all activity, I can only resort to reality for justice.

      Now, what if I say the proposed man of God is false, because my experience tells me what is true? Then I have asserted again the One truth but under a different guise, because still I have to go out and justify myself in reality.

      It is this situation that caps forth the polemical situation of the not real. For what is justified by the absurd does not reconcile itself by what is ethical real. But rather what occurs is that reality is justified by what for reality is not real, but is exactly true.

      What calls is not real by virtue of that fact that one could not account for it beforehand in reality. If I could account for it beforehand then I do so after the fact by relying on the real sensibility that co-ordinates what is real and true; for example, I speak with you, reality tells me you have had your own personal experiences and so whether or not I encounter you as well as wether it is significant or not is determined through the random chance of universal occurrence that exists prior to our meeting as an absolutely true real platform from which I then act.

      Two routes. One excludes, one includes. And one is included and one belongs.

      To sit on a pole concerns devotion only in as much as it is a condition by which I might assess what devotion is in reality. The actual historical persons act occurs as an example of devotion and self sacrifice only to the extent that I find it amazing and incredible, that I would have faith that he was a human being as I am, both of us included in reality. But it is an insane act of belief inso much as it allows me to determine what reality might be, so much as what we are talking about is not real.

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