by Alec Siantonas
“The void stands before us, the void behind, and while the spirit to the flesh still cleaves it behoves us to gaze into the abyss with unfrightened eyes”
The void stands before us, the void behind, and while the spirit to the flesh still cleaves it behoves us to gaze into the abyss with unfrightened eyes – especially if the abyss might be Tinder swiping you. For anguished meditations you will find no better backdrop than Oxford, whose spires pierce all illusions. As I stride these ancient streets in search of understanding, it is invigorating to recall the intellects that came before. Who knows but that in the bristles of my beard, the remains of their wisdom may yet accumulate? Today I share with you some of my favourite brooding places.
Oriel Library Theology Section
Can our reason search out the ultimate source of being, or must we wait upon His Word? And has He spoken, or does a strict unceasing silence echo through an empty universe? Here one is perfectly poised to ponder such questions. From this vantage, too, one may survey either Third Quad or the rest of the Library. The eye of understanding sees not only the poor few scrambling to finish essays today, but all the students who have passed or will pass through these noble walls. Some go to glory, others fade un-viewed like an old philology journal. Whom shall you follow?
Who can but love all waste and solitary places, which seem as boundless as we wish our souls to be? When Shelley was sent down, I imagine that he came forthwith to wander these flats. It is proper on a time to be driven here, whether to struggle with the knowledge of your own iniquities, or to bewail the sad truth that your imaginative conceit does not, in fact, love you back. Here you can forget the deadlines and the lectures, and return to the rhythms of our great progenitor. When the flood is on the field, though, and the ice is on the flood, go easy. And fear not the horses: they, like you, want only to run in perfect freedom, till they die.
Happy brooding, Alec.