Dialogue on the Threshold

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Tuesday, 30 April 2019


Where then will that soul hide itself, which to the eyes of so many spectators will have been suddenly exposed in all its shame? With what kind of body will it endure those endless and unbearable torments, where is the fire unquenched, and the endlessly punishing worm, and the dark and fearful nethermost reach (*) of hell, and bitter moans, and violent yelling, and weeping and gnashing of teeth, and horrors without end? From these there is no release after death, there is no device or means to escape these bitter punishments.

(*) πυθμὴν - base, foundation, root (of a tree), bottom (of a jar or cup), bottom (of the sea), socket, fundus of a univalve, the hollow beneath the foot of a goblet, stock of a family, base of an arithmetical series

ποῦ ἄρα ἡ ψυχὴ ἐκείνη καταδύσεται, ἡ ἐν ὄψεσι τοσούτων θεατῶν ἐξαίφνης ὀφθεῖσα αἰσχύνης ἀνάπλεως; ποίῳ δὲ σώματι τὰς ἀπεράντους ἐκείνας καὶ ἀνυποίστους ὑποστήσεται μάστιγας, ὅπου πῦρ ἄσβεστον, καὶ σκώληξ ἀθάνατα κολάζων, καὶ πυθμὴν ᾅδου σκοτεινὸς καὶ φρικώδης, καὶ οἰμωγαὶ πικραί, καὶ ὀλολυγμὸς ἐξαίσιος, καὶ κλαυθμὸς καὶ βρυγμὸς ὀδόντων, καὶ πέρας οὐκ ἔχει τὰ δεινά; τούτων οὐκ ἔστιν ἀπαλλαγὴ μετὰ θάνατον, οὐδέ τις ἐπίνοια, οὐδὲ μηχανὴ τοῦ διεκδῦναι τὰ πικρὰ κολαστήρια.

Epistola XLVI. Ad Virginem lapsam. Sancti Nostri Basilii Caesareae Cappadociae Archiepiscopi Opera Omnia Quae Exstant, Opera et Studio Monachorum Ordinis Sancti Benedicti, e Congregatione Sancti Mauri. Editio Parisina Altera, Emendata et Aucta. Tomus Tertius. Parisiis, apud Gaume Fratres, Bibliopolas, M. DCCC. XXXIX. [pag. 497]

Ubi itaque anima illa abscondetur, quae in oculis tot spectatorum subito visa fuerit dedecoris plena? Quali vero corpore infinita illa et intolerabilia perferet supplicia, ubi ignis inexstinctus, et vermis indesinenter puniens, et imum inferi tenebricosum et horrendum et ululatus amari, et ejulatus ingens, et ploratus, et stridor dentium, et ubi mala finem non habent? Ab his post mortem liberari non datus, neque est industria ulla, neque ars effugiendi amara supplicia.

Saturday, 27 April 2019


But self-love, or the love which reigns in Hell, and is the opposite of that in heaven, consists in a man’s loving himself supremely, and willing well to himself alone, and not to others except for the sake of himself. Such a man has no genuine love of the church, his country, society, or a fellow-citizen. He is not willing to serve them, but loves to have them serve him. And if he performs any uses, or confers any benefits upon others, it is for the sake of his own reputation, honor, or emolument that he does it;— thus for the sake of himself, and not from any regard to the good of his neighbor.
    Such is Hell as to its quality or essence—the complete opposite of Heaven. “The evils proper to those,” says Swedenborg, “who are in the love of self are in general contempt of others, envy, enmity against all who do not favor them, hostility thence derived, various kinds of hatred, of revenge, of cunning, of deceit, together with unmercifulness and cruelty.”

George Bush, From the Memorabilia of Swedenborg; 
Illustrative of His Doctrines and Disclosures
New York, 1848, p. 197

Friday, 19 April 2019


Discrimen inter Ens reale et apparens, qualitatemque realem et apparentem examinatu dignum est. Et quidem quae in somniis apparent, dicimus falsa sive apparentia, non tam quia eorum causa intra nos est neque aliquid externi iis respondet (id enim ut alias dicam nihil obesset), quam potius quia neque cum aliis phaenomenis inter se congruentibus, neque inter se congruunt quae somniamus.

Leibniz, 1685 (?)

The difference between a Being that is real and a Being in appearance, between a quality that is real and a quality in appearance, is worthy of examination. The fact is that we call the things that appear in dreams false or appearances not because their cause is within us or because they are not in accord with anything external (which would be no hindrance, as I shall say elsewhere), so much as because the things that we dream are neither congruent among themselves nor congruent with other phenomena congruent among themselves.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Somnia testificantur de futura vita

Somnia hoc distant a vita, quod phaenomena vitae sunt ordinata, et quod hinc sequitur universalia: neque enim mea satis ordinata essent, nisi alienis conspirarent. Quia tamen est aliquid in speciem inordinatum in hac vita, no physice quidem, sed moraliter, consentaneum est superesse aliam vitam, cui collata haec habet somnii instar, et morte nos evigilantes ad phaenomena demum pervenire, in quibus huic quoque perturbationi remedium afferatur, ubi praemia poenaeque corriget, quae in hac vita distorta videntur. 

Leibniz, c. 1698

Dreams are separate from life in that the phenomena of life possess an order and hence it follows that they are universal: for the phenomena of my life would not possess sufficient order unless they were in concord with the phenomena of others’ lives. Since in this life there nonetheless exists something lacking in order, not only physically, but also morally, it stands to reason that there is yet another life, compared with which this life has the appearance of a dream, and that awakening from death we at last arrive at phenomena wherein a remedy to this confusion is also brought about, where rewards and punishments will rectify those things that appear distorted in this life.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Mitbürger des Himmels

. . . ich nicht von den bin so auff ihr Vaterland, oder sonst auff eine gewisse Nation, erpricht seyn; sondern ich gehe auf den Nutzen des gantzen menschlichen Geschlechts; denn ich halte den Himmel für das Vaterland und alle wohlgesinnte Menschen für dessen Mitbürger . . .

Concept eines Briefes von Leibniz an Peter den Grossen, 16. Jan. 1712.

Leibniz in seinen Beziehungen zu Russland und Peter dem Grossen: 
Eine geschischtliche Darstellung dieses Verhältnisses 
nebst den darauf bezüglichen Briefen und Denkschriften
Hrsg. W. Guerrier, Ord. Professor an der Universität Moscau.
St. Petersburg und Leipzig, 1873. 
N. 143. S. 208 

I am not one of those devoted solely to his native land or to one particular nation; rather, I pursue the interests of the whole human race, since I deem heaven my native land and all well-meaning men its fellow citizens.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

tête de mouche

Les plus petits moucherons sont aussi parfaits que les animaux les plus énormes. Les proportions de leurs membres sont aussi justes que celles des autres; et il semble même que Dieu ait voulu leur donner plus d'ornements pour récompenser la petitesse de leur corps. Ils ont des couronnes, des aigrettes, et d'autres ajustements sur leur tête, qui effacent tout ce que le luxe des hommes peut inventer; et je puis dire hardiment que tous ceux qui ne se sont jamais servis que de leurs yeux, n'ont jamais rien vu de si beau, de si juste, ni même de si magnifique dans les maisons des plus grands princes, que ce qu'on voit avec des lunettes sur la tête d'une simple mouche.

Malebranche, De la recherche de la vérité (1674-75)