Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sailing 'round and 'round (toward God?)

The Buddha Diaries Recommends:
Sailing to Byzantium

(posted by Cardozo)

"You don't have the right to be here," Kullervo, author of Sailing to Byzantium, writes in the introduction to his blog. In the same introduction, Kullervo goes on to say he will "block users or IP addresses who detract from rather than add to what I'm trying to do here."

Those who choose to sail along with Kullervo despite such plainly-worded threats will quickly discover why those threats might be necessary. In some respects the blog is agonizing. It is the faithful record of the author's spiritual journey - a journey with an ostensible destination (the truth about God, as far as I can tell) but which is ever circling around, drifting, and spasmodically changing course. Mormonism, Christianity, Druidry, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, and Agnosticism are explored and re-explored. Its kind of like watching a goldfish swim around in its bowl - its always going, but where?

So we can understand why certain frustrated web-surfers (not known for their patience) might lash out against Kullervo's meandering journey with comments along the lines of "For God's sake, PICK SOMETHING already!" But we also understand why Kullervo would want that frustration weeded out of the mix, why he continues to write, and why he wishes to do so in a community of fellow seekers.

Because while the canonical chroniclers and mediators of western culture - from de Cervantes, Dickens and Austen all the way to Spielberg - would have us believe that journeys always move forward eventually (otherwise why turn the page?), the truth of our human experience is usually far more circular. As a result of staying so true to the achingly slow trajectory of the real-life individual human search for meaning, Sailing to Byzantium is perhaps a little pathetic. ("Sometimes I don't feel like believing in Jesus," Kullervo writes in one characteristically vague yet stubbornly truthful passage.) But it is pathetic in the ways so many of us are pathetic. No one likes to think, for example, that they are repeating the same mistakes they made in college, carrying around decades-old emotional baggage, or (as in Kullervo's case) still struggling with their faith. But, in all likelihood, they are.

Which is why, despite its unsatisfying lack of emotional closure and its suspicious attitude toward new visitors, Sailing to Byzantium is one of the more refreshing and interesting personal blogs on the web. We highly recommend a visit there.

[Incidentally, we don't mean to suggest in this review that Sailing to Byzantium is simple-minded for all of its circuitousness. We simply chose to focus on what we took to be the most interesting aspect of the blog's overall impact. But...you'll see for yourself. ]

1 comment:

Kullervo said...

For what it's worth, I don't actually block people all that often. Honestly, I feel like divergent points of view are useful to me. That may sound self-centered, but honestly my blog IS kind of self-centered. It has a specific purpose in mind, and I don't like to get too off-track as far as that purpose goes.

I like to have input and feedback from as many different viewpoints as possible, even if those viewpoints starkly disagree with mine. But in my opinion there is a line between meaningful feedback, meaningful discussion, and abusive behavior.

And I pretty much always give warnings. The only people I've ever actually blocked from my blog have consistently been abusive despite my asking them not to. Well, except this one guy who I knew from elsewhere in the blog-o-sphere...

In any case, since adopting a modus operandi of "harsh in policy, lenient in practice," things have gotten a lot easier.

As far as the accusations of being pathetic go.. well, sometimes I feel kind of pathetic. Leaving Mormonism after a lifetime of faithful membership has been like endingan abusive relationship. It isn't easy to pick up the pieces, and it's not just as simple as getting back on the horse again. I have vague, ill-defined spiritual longings, but I'm honestly skeptical and mistrusting. What am I supposed to do with that? What am I able to do with that?

On the other hand, I definitely do feel like a "lost soul swimming in a fish bowl," and I'm getting tired of it.