Syukhtun Editions

I want to compose a piece for dogs,
and I already have my decor.
The curtain rises on a bone.

- Erik Satie on his Gymnopédies


Alexis de Tocqueville’s writings include what he called ”Notebook E”, the structure of which is similar to that of the present volume. De Tocqueville described his notebook as ”Miscellaneous papers which cannot be easily classified. Notes. Reflections. Ideas.” This randomness is also to be seen in Charles Baudelaire’s collection of odds-and-ends called Fusées (a title borrowed from Poe) and Robert Graves’ The Crane Bag and other Disputed Subjects.


Although a spiritual person, my mother has no religion and therefore never imposed a religion on her children. She doesn't believe in any religion or any god... she simply believes. She leaves unnamed the spiritual force that amazes her in her blossoming fruit trees, flowers, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. This natural spirituality that was passed on to me has been a great blessing.

The many religious doctrines, often at war with one another, always appeared to me as obstacles between the individual and the Spirit of the Universe, and I therefore avoided them. When I ate dinner at the house of school friends, I experienced the prayers they uttered before the meal as extremely unnatural and odd. I always felt left out at these moments of dinner prayer and was always relieved when the long-awaited "amen" came so that the gathering could go back to being natural, a state in which one can truly be grateful for the spiritual.

The ceremony of prayer, the ceremony of the church, it all seemed unnatural to me in childhood, at the most natural time of a human life. I discovered as an adult that being natural is the beginning of a true contact with nature, and that a true contact with nature, precedes a true contact with spirit. Almost every day in the newspaper one reads of violent acts leading to serious injury and death as a direct result of religion. It can be one religion divided against itself, as the Christians in Northern Ireland or the Muslims in Algeria and Pakistan, or it can be brother religions forever at war with each other, as in the Middle East struggles between Jews and Muslims, or the Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox slaughtering one another in the former Yugoslavia.

Theologians often defend their respective religions by saying that the fanatics, terrorists and murderers who kill in the name of a religion have strayed from its true essence. But is the true essence of religion pure? Or do the fanaticism and violence that religions cause all over the earth reveal an inner core of unnaturalness in the doctrines themselves? Murder is covertly condoned in the scriptures, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. The patriarchs and prophets at times were violent, tyrannical towards women, and, as in David's case, even killers of innocent men.

The doctrines are inflexible, and do not include all humanity, but only a portion of humanity. We who are not members of a given religion are seen as infidels, the damned, or at least at a great disadvantage spiritually speaking when compared to them, God's chosen people. Considering the severity of damnation as a punishment, the doctrines again reveal a violent attitude towards other people who are not members of their religion.

(Scraps for Your Dogma is presently being edited for publication.)

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