Oceanic Truths

Marco van den Berg Scholten |

Pretty soon now, my first novel, “In Search of Achilles” will be published. It is a novel that has been long in the making, as I structured its basic framework as early as 1990. Incidentally, that is the year in which the story is set. So now, 33 years later, that same framework is coming into being as a 360-plus paged, red-blooded novel. What is fascinating to me is the fact that after all these years, the basic structure hasn’t changed. When I restarted writing the book in the winter of 2021, the plot hardly deviated from its original skeleton at all. It was as if the idea behind the book had been freshly preserved on ice to resurface intact when the time was right. This time, apparently, is now.

Now I won’t give the book away. I hope you become curious enough to pick up a copy and discover which ruminations they incite. But I will lay out before you why I believe the novel has not lost its speaking power in over three decades. What follows can be read as an attempt at clarity, but just the same as a few thoughts to entice the wonderment of the reader.

I believe in simplifying through logos. That is to say, simplification is the only chance at clarity we have when trying to catch Being in words or images. Our bounded cognition demands it. Dwell in the deepest of meditations, sink in nonduality all the way down to the bottomlessness of nothingness, once we come back up on the surface, on the field of logos, we require understandable, simple symbols to bridge the experience back to the cognitive ground. This is always a simplification, and this is totally okay. My method of madness is to divide the experience into three Spheres or Fields.

The first, most obvious field, is where everyday reality is met. It is where we function in society through rationality. So, one could say: the field of sensory apprehension through our shared languages, our measuring units, and our agreed-upon power structures. It is the realm of order, the functioning world outside. I call it the field of objectivity and attach the symbol of the ratio to it.

The second, still obvious, -perhaps a little less than the first- field is where my inner Being is encountered. This is the realm of desires, urges, emotions, inherited habits, instincts, and other types of energy movements, that we assemble under the noun of feelings. It is the sphere of the unconscious, the driver of our motives, and the place of dark and light; the part of us that C.G. Jung called the undiscovered self. I simplify things by naming it the field of subjectivity and I add the symbol of the heart to it.

The third and final field of Being is not necessarily dependent on self, and therefore perhaps less obvious: This is the point of connection to Life itself. The primal force that gave birth to time and space, which then made all the spinning Universe come to be. What it is remains beyond the realm of self’s consciousness and throughout man’s history as a cognizing, standing being the ultimate enigma, and the bone of doubt for all religions to chew on. But we are connected. To the earth, to life, to Being, like the wave to the ocean. It is our hidden home, the base for all Being, the realm understood by Erwin Schrödinger to be ruled by only one mind. I call it simply the field of Unity and symbolize it with the umbilical cord.

Man’s task it is to let all three fields work freely and openly within him- or herself.

Not equally, as life is spontaneous and uncontrollable. But freely and openly, perhaps playfully in a harmonious interconnection. It is the essence of his Existenz: His task, one could say, or Duty, as de Saint-Exupery named it, to fulfill in life, in order to live a fulfilling life.

And this is where man in our age is out of whack. The Field of ratio is top-heavy and the field of Unity has gone AWOL. The umbilical cord is seemingly nowhere to be found. We are staring down the abyss of nihility, and deep down this eats away at our being. Deep down we are lonely. Modernity, in the Occident, has come to this point: what comes after?

This is why In Search of Achilles still speaks to our souls.