Serendipity II

Happened to be visiting an old friend who was himself visiting this idyllic valley:

And happened to come across a copy of Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals, bookmarked to the section on Tolstoy, in which Johnson recounted various examples of the way that Tolstoy, who was forever caught up with love for all mankind, had considerable trouble managing to love this or that particular man, even his friends.

Then, after finally getting back to Alec Guinness’s Blessings in Disguise last night, I happened upon this account of Tolstoy, told to Guinness by one of his friends, Sidney Cockerell:

“Later, up in the house, Tolstoy said he would like Syndey to see the billiard-room. The door was pushed open and they stepped into a large room, but there was no sign of a billiard table although it was there all right. The table was entirely surrounded and covered, nearly to the height of the ceiling, by tens of thousands of unopened letters which Tolstoy had thrown there. Stamps from all over the world, a philatelist’s dream, could be glimpsed and Sydney turned to his host with a look of astonished enquiry. Tolstoy shrugged, muttered something about vanity and propelled him out of the room.”

An astonishing image. One almost wonders if the billiard table haunted the great author (this or that particular man or woman, massed together into a credible substitute for all mankind, each of them seeking some form of communion – the reader responding to the writer). Otherwise, why show it to guests?


  1. notrelatedtoted says

    And, don’t forget about the movie Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn, who was married to Madonna, named after the mother of God, based on the book by Krakauer about a kid who tried to live his life according to Tolstoy’s ascetic principles. It all ties together…

  2. Cubeland Mystic says

    There is a lot of ascesis on Godsbody lately. First the post about Padre Pio, then Jesus floating around up there in Tibet, now Lev Nikolaevich. What the heck is going on, you want to join team mystic?

    Hey, let me warn you, it looks exciting and sexy from the outside (i.e. the months of isolated prayer, scorching desert, eating wild bitter herbs, wearing filthy rags, the terror of the abyss, the palpable absence of God, matted hair, abstinence, etc. etc. etc. ) but don’t be fooled by the glamor. It’s a hard life.

    The world’s not really friendly towards the mystical life either. It really freaks people out when you suddenly materialize in their living room, or when you throw a twelve pack of beer on the counter at the Circle K, and then you begin to levitate. Blamo, out comes the clerk’s Glock. I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened to me. After awhile you just stick to your solitude out there in the desert. It’s so much easier.

    Oh, then there’s the groupies. It really sucks, you’re trying to pray, and these young guys track you down seeking wisdom. “What do you want from me?” I tell them, “…I live in the freaking desert eating wild plants, wearing filthy rags, and battling demons. Go to college find a wife, what the hell kind of wisdom can you get from a guy in the desert?”

    No, my friend you’re better off staying there at Casa Godsbody with the family. Being a mystic is a fool’s game. No need to go packing yourself off to El Centro.

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