Sermon for St. Patrick's Day

by Steven H. Cullinane on March 17, 2001


"Words and numbers are of equal value,
for, in the cloak of knowledge,
one is warp and the other woof."
-- The princesses Rhyme and Reason,
in The Phantom Tollbooth,
by Norton Juster, 1961

The following note was written by
S. H. Cullinane on August 17, 1999:


"It is in imageless contemplation that the soul comes to the... knowledge of reality; consequently, for St. Bernard... the fewer distracting symbols the better."
-- Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (1945), a Harper paperback, 1970, page 264

In the same book, in the upper right corner of the page facing St. Bernard, the page number "265" and the word "reality" are juxtaposed.

Again on page 265 -- this time in a book edited by Holly Stevens, The Palm at the End of the Mind (Vintage paperback, 1972) -- we find a contemplation of Reality, in a 1945 poem by Wallace Stevens, "The Pure Good of Theory." It is instructive to compare the four sections of Stevens's poem with the "four fundamental doctrines of the Perennial Philosophy" expounded by Aldous Huxley in his 1944 introduction to the Bhagavad Gita. Could Stevens's reference to "night's middle witch" be to "rajas," as described in Chapter XIV of the Gita? We may, quite arbitrarily, take Stevens's "page of a wiggy book" to refer, in T. S. Eliot's The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry (Harvest Paperback, 1996) to -- yet again -- page 265. Here Eliot quotes Dante's phrase describing entry into paradise: "like a diamond struck by the sun."

Eliot's book is certainly wiggy; whether this page of his book adequately expresses Stevens's heavenly reality -- "eloquences of light's faculties" in a space "free from time" -- the reader may decide. At any rate, the page number is real enough.


Page 265 of The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, by Simon Blackburn, Oxford University Press paperback, 1996 --


Part III of Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin, 1983 --

"Nothing is random."

New York State Lottery daily number for March 16, 2001 --


See also Random Thoughts for St. Patrick's Eve.

Page created March 17, 2001 shc759. Return to Journal.