Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"A Deeply Religious Non-Believer..."

"I am a deeply religious non-believer... This is a somewhat new kind of religion." -- Einstein

I love this quote. I came across it in a book I'm reading in connection with my next "Art of Outrage" podcast contribution. The book is the  "Second Diasporist Manifesto," by R. B. Kitaj, a kind of aesthetic testament left by this important artist who died by his own hand at the age of 74 last October. A series of random but deeply connected thoughts on art, art history, love and lost love, the post-war art scene, Judaism, the great traditions of Jewish history and culture (Kafka, Spinoza, Freud, Wittgenstein... and, yes, Einstein,) and Kitaj's commitment to what he wanted to be a genuinely "Jewish art", the book has a number of quotations of this kind that he keeps coming back to.

"A deeply religious non-believer..." That resonates. I have religion "down the bones." I was brought up with it. All that personal history doesn't simply dissipate, it pervades the body-mind. What was lost along the way was the belief in some ineffable being overseeing human affairs--and making a pretty poor job of it, if you ask me!--and in an afterlife of reward for the good and punishment for the rest of us. Karma makes sense to me. It works in this life. Heaven and hell do not. Oh, sure, we create our own little heavens and hells, but that's not what the Christian concept is about.

Of his own religion, Kitaj says "The main religion I believe in is Kindness, and I fail at that too often."

That resonates, too.


heartinsanfrancisco said...

H.H. The Dalai Lama has often remarked that his own religion is compassion.

And most of us fail at that too often.

I'd like to read Kitaj's book because your post makes it resonate with me.

khengsiong said...

heartinsanfrancisco has said what I wanted to say...

And I think in China, the largest religion is 'money worshiping'!