Don Juan

If it were sufficient to love, things would be too easy. The more one loves the stronger the absurd grows. It is not through lack of love that Don Juan goes from woman to woman to woman. It is ridiculous to represent him as a mystic in quest of total love. But it is indeed because he loves them with the same passion and each time with his whole self that he must repeat his gift and his profound quest.

Whence each woman hopes to give him what no one has ever given him. Each time they are utterly wrong and merely manage to make him feel the need of that repetition. ‘At last’, exclaims one of them, ‘ I have given you love’. Can we be surprised that Don Juan laughs at this? ‘At last?’ ‘No’, he says’, ‘but once more.’ Why should it be essential to love rarely in order to love much?

Is Don Juan melancholy? This is not likely. I shall barely have recourse to the legend. That laugh, the conquering insolence, that playfulness and love of the theatre are all clear and joyous. Every healthy creature tends to multiply himself. So it is with Don Juan. But furthermore melancholy people have two reasons for being so: they don’t know or they hope. Dont Juan knows and does not hope.

He reminds one of those artists who know their limits, never go beyond them, and in that precarious interval in which they take their spiritual stand enjoy all the wonderful ease of masters. And that is, indeed, genius: the intelligence that knows its frontiers. Up to the frontier of physical death Don Juan is ignorant of melancholy. The moment he knows, his laugh bursts forth and makes one forgive everything. He was melancholy at the time when he hoped.

Today, on the mouth of that woman he recognises the bitter and comforting taste of the only knowledge. Bitter? Barely: that necessary imperfection that makes happiness perceptible! It is quite false to try to see in Don Juan a man brought up on Ecclesiastes. For nothing is vanity to him except the hope of another life. He proves this because he gambles that other life against heaven itself. Longing for desire killed by satisfaction, that commonplace of the impotent man does not belong to him.

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

3 Replies to “Don Juan”

  1. hi charlotte. i enjoyed a lot your post of “philosophy-of-a-lunatic” but its too old so i thought that you wouldnt answer me there. i have been 3 times exposed to this spiritual megalomania. its confusing since i dont know if its good to feel it or wrong. whats your advice to people that are experiencing this ?

    when i have this “spiritual megalomania” i become, the world. all my friends lose their identity and they seem like just projections of my head. the world itself seems to be a proyection of my head. i feel like im jesus, im everyone in the world.
    i need help but i dont know where i can search for it.

  2. Hi Diego, thank you for your comment, I’m glad you liked the post.

    the ‘spiritual megalomania’ you describe is also known in some circles as ‘inflation’ – a word that expresses the ‘puffing up’ of ego – where we are warned in the most urgent possible terms that it is the greatest danger facing any ‘practitioner’. (Look at what happened to Aleister Crowley as an example of why, but there are many more examples, both more and less dramatic and notorious.)

    I would say that pretty much anyone engaged in this type of work/study – or who has an undeniable inclination towards ‘spirituality’ – is exposed to this danger, which in simplified terms should be seen as the testing of the ‘Devil’. It is a curious fact that one can be rationally aware of the effects of this inflation – and can know in all certainty with a whole heart that it is detrimental to both self and world – and yet feel unable to control it. It is not so much the rational faculty that is affected, but rather the Spirit and/or Soul. Almost as if the numinous self has been pumped full of hot air.

    In this situation it is inevitable that the bubble will be pricked by one’s Master. In this respect things are easier for those who have an earthly teacher who can spot the symptoms and will administer correction – a sanguine word from one’s superior can very effectively deflate the over-excited novice. However, it may not be enough and the inflationary tendency can be powerful indeed, like wild horses – the stronger the individual the more subject they are likely to be to temptations of ego. The more stubborn the force of inflation, the more imperiled one becomes, often without realising, and it is then that disaster can strike and the practitioner is liable to suffer a devastating blow. – pride comes before a fall, as we’re all taught. Ultimately we all have only one true Master, who operates through a hierarchy of spiritual forces of which we are a part. The ‘good news’ is that the correction will always occur in order to make possible our salvation, the tricky part is avoiding the disaster.

    I would suggest that the only way is through great discipline and very hard work in whatever field one has chosen, so as to force the consciousness away from self. This is easier said than done, however, as one might be a great adept but not necessarily wish to adopt a monastic lifestyle. Nonetheless, it is the spirit of service that will save the self, the giving over of one’s personal treasure for the universal effort of salvation. If you ever feel overcome by spiritual forces within/without yourself, my best advice is to ardently pray in a sense of complete supplication – not to the extent of self-debasement, which is another form of vanity – but you need to get to a point where you can understand (in the sense of feeling in every part of yourself) that the true imitation of Christ necessarily involves suffering. Then ask yourself to what extent you would be willing to suffer – in this way you should regain a sense of your own limitation, as few of us would actually be capable of dying an agonising death on behalf of a largely ungrateful and uncomprehending humanity.

    The Son of God Himself has no ‘ego’, He is a pure vessel for the will of God and was therefore able to both withstand every temptation from the most powerful demons and to embalm the entire world with the loving grace and mercy of God.

    Easier said than done perhaps – monks used to flagellate themselves, but I really wouldn’t recommend that!

    I’d be interested to hear more of your experiences if you feel like telling more.


  3. By the way, Diego, that book I quoted from in Philosophy of Lunatic – Meditations on the Tarot – can explain far more in depth on this matter. The author did not wish to be considered a ‘master’ and this book was published posthumously, possibly without his permission, so in one respect I hesitate to suggest turning to him for guidance, and yet this is a problem he understands thoroughly – I can’t help but recommend it.

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