The answer is never the answer. What's really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you'll always be seeking. I've never seen anybody really find the answer. They think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.
Human beings are like detectives. They love a mystery. They love going where the mystery pulls them. What we don't like is a mystery that's solved completely. It's a letdown. It always seems less than what we imagined when the mystery was present. The last scene in 'Blow Up' is so perfect because you leave the theater still dreaming. Or the end of 'Chinatown,' where the guy says 'Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown.' It explains so much but it only gives you a dream of a bigger mystery. Like life. For me, I want to solve certain things but leave some room to dream.
I've done an incredible amount of painters. It's an area, for me, where there's more mystery left. I've photographed so many musicians, I've been in studios so often, I know the whole process. The mystery's gone from it. I think it's important to keep mystery into our lives. There's a longing connected with it.
If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It's a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you - the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.
The religious man, the mystic, tries to explore the mystery of death. In exploring the mystery of death, he inevitably comes to know what life is, what love is. Those are not his goals. His goal is to penetrate death, because there seems to be nothing more mysterious than death. Love has some mystery because of death, and life also has some mystery because of death.
Life is a mystery; that means it cannot be solved. And when all efforts to solve it prove futile, the mystery dawns upon you. Then the doors are open; then you are invited. As a knower, nobody enters the divine; as a child, ignorant, not knowing at all- the mystery embraces you. With a knowing mind you are clever, not innocent. Innocence is the door.
Mystery has great power. In the many years I have worked with people with cancer, I have seen Mystery comfort people when nothing else can comfort them and offer hope when nothing else offers hope. I have seen Mystery heal fear that is otherwise unhealable. For years I have watched people in their confrontation with the unknown recover awe, wonder, joy, and aliveness. They have remembered that life is holy, and they have reminded me as well. In losing our sense of Mystery, we have become a nation of burned-out people. People who wonder do not burn out.
This element of surprise or mystery - the detective element as it is sometimes rather emptily called - is of great importance in a plot. It occurs through a suspension of the time-sequence; a mystery is a pocket in time, and it occurs crudely, as in "Why did the queen die?" and more subtly in half-explained gestures and words, the true meaning of which only dawns pages ahead. Mystery is essential to plot, and cannot be appreciated without intelligence. ... To appreciate a mystery, part of the mind must be left behind, brooding, while the other part goes marching on.
We don't tend to ask where a lake comes from. It lies before us, contained and complete, tantalizing in its depth but not its origin. A river is a different kind of mystery, a mystery of distance and becoming, a mystery of source. Touch its fluent body and you touch far places. You touch a story that must end somewhere but cannot stop telling itself, a story that is always just beginning.
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