Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"There is no truth about the inhuman....except for Christ" and the.artfulness of concentration camps

 I might assume that any readers here would already be familiar with Jacques Lusseyran's amazing "And There Was Light,"   as it made the cut as  one of USA Today's (and Harper Collins')  100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century.

  But since I only found out about it accidentally (in both senses of the term, emphasizing the theological), I would be thrilled if I am now introducing you to Jacques Lusseyran's book, a kind of spiritual autobiography (as one subtitle has it; another edition's subtitle is Blind Hero of the French Resistance ) of this blind man who saw much in  Buchenwald.

It's kind of funny that one review feels the need to say
  Warnings: Some light Christianity. If religion offends you, you might not be as inspired by this book as I was. It's not heavy-handed, though.
Actually, this is not light Christianity, or Christianity is deeply Christian, even if you don't think the author was officially Christian.

"Glimpse both heaven and hell through the eyes of a man who has lived through both." -- The Los Angeles Times

"This is a magical book, the kind that becomes a classic, passed along between friends." -- The Baltimore Sun

Intriguing quote:

A Nazi concentration camp is highly organized, full of red tape, aimed at persecution and death, but extremely complex, hierarchical and artful to the nth degree. (context)
Here's a stirring section that is nowhere complete online (until now):

We had to form a line and walk. Fast. All around us there were dogs biting the ones who hung back. It was almost impossible to move because of our swollen legs.
I passed through this gateway going in the opposite direction fifteen months later, on April 18, 1945. But here I come to a halt. I can't say how, but it is no longer I who am conducting my life. It is God, and I haven't always understood how he went about it.
I think it would be more honest to warn you that I am not going to take you through Buchenwald, not all the way. No one has ever been able to do it . .{there are] books about Buchenwald.  I can testify that these books come very close to reality.  Still, I can't say that they are 'true.'
          There is no truth about the inhuman; any more than there is truth about death; at any rate not at our side, among us mortal men. Such truth could only exist for our Lord Jesus Christ, absorbed and preserved by him in the name of his Father and ours."
I have riffed on this section in context of U2's "No Line" here.
A large excerpt of the Buchenwald section is here.

An excerpt here dealing with his early days is here .

More excerpts found online below:

"The world of violins and flutes, of horns and cellos, of fugues, scherzos and gavottes, obeyed laws which were so beautiful and so clear that all music seemed to speak of God. My body was not listening, it was praying. My spirit no longer had bounds, and if tears came to my eyes, I did not feel them running down because they were outside me. I wept with gratitude every time the orchestra began to sing. A world of sounds for a blind man, what sudden grace! No more need to get one's bearings. No more need to wait. The inner world made concrete."

"Before becoming the word of a man, even if the man is Mozart, all music is music. A kind of geometry, but one of inner space. Sentences, but freed from meaning. Without any doubt, of all the things man has made, music is the least human. When I heard it I was all there, with my troubles and my joys, yet it was not myself exactly. It was better than I, bigger and more sure."

From the video reading below:
"Only terror and poetry...I learned [in the concentration camp]  that poetry is an act, and incantation, a kiss of peace, a medicine. I learned that poetry is one of the rare , very rare things that can prevail over cold and hatred. No one had taught me this"

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