Monday, May 3, 2010

Conan Quote



I pulled this quote from a blog called "Songs from the Wood". Found it via RuneSoup.
I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he trusts them too deeply. I seek not death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and the stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let the teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."
-Robert E. Howard, from “Queen of the Black Coast.”

This quote from Robert Howard speaking as Conan is simply delicious. It is as worthy of discussion as any religious, magic, or mystical text. 
Now, seeing as I am a Buddhist, one might think that I completely disagree with the quote above. If I was into Sutrayana that would indeed be the case. The meat eating, intoxication, and killing would be considered poisons to renounce and antidote (accorsing to Hinayana and Mahayana respectivly). 
Even from the Tantrayana perspective the only reason to engage in these poisons would be to use them as trans-formative activities. Just as vaccines are developed from the skillful use of disease, the poisons themselves can be a platform of transformation is used correctly. 
From the Dzogchen perspective though, which is a vehicle unto itself, we are free to realize pure awareness for what it is and enjoy all phenomena as the play of awareness. Of course the trick to this is to actually be resting in the primordial nature of mind, which is beyond subject and object. If you are not, than you are still mired in the cycles of attachment and aversion which inevitably lead to suffering. 
In other words, if Conan is resting in the true nature of mind, than he realizes that both he and the world are illusion, and he is free to act as he wills and enjoy the fruits of his actions fully. Without this realization I doubt Conan is as content as he states. 

4 comments:

Gordon said...

Interesting take.

I see it as a fatalistic dismissal of someone who seen enough of the multiverse to know where the rules do -and don't- apply.

Sort of a 'master of my fate, captain of my soul' thing. A willingness to be judged by doing, borne out of a hard-won worldliness.

By the way, can I just add I'm loving how we turned this into a genuine metaphysical analysis? About Conan??!

Ron said...

I like this quote. Back during my "wiccan" period, I argued that this was closer to original European paganism and should be adopted by modern pagans. I just got a lot of "harm none" and "rule of three" objections back.

Oh well.

faoladh said...

Gordon: Robert E. Howard was not as stupid as some of his imitators and continuers have been (for instance, the Conan of Howard bears almost no resemblance to the Conan of the movies or Marvel comics), and had connections to the world of the occult of his time (notably, his correspondent and fellow writer Clark Ashton Smith was an avid occultist, but other authors of weird fiction of the day were also involved in esotericism to varying degrees).

Ron: Happily, more pagans these days are looking outside of Wicca's guidelines for moral and ethical guidance. Even those who retain those guidelines are starting to expand their thought using those principles as the starting point they should be, rather than assuming they were the final word. This is especially true among reconstructionist polytheists, with the Greek Reconstructionists looking to the moral thought of the Classical thinkers, and my own Gaelic Reconstructionist/Revivalist tradition studying texts like Tecosca Cormaic, the Triads and Law-texts, or the Instructions of Fionn for advice on proper moral and ethical behavior. See, for instance, The Other Side of Virtue by Brendan Myers for an example of modern pagan thought on the subject.

Argent said...

I sent the quote to my Bishop who replied with
"Conan is a very enlightened Man"

I coulnd't agree more.