Chris Deliso is an American author (with Irish roots), covering primarily the countries of Southeast Europe for a variety of nonfiction media; his work has included politics reports for The Economist, travel guides for Lonely Planet, and numerous articles in leading magazines and websites on topic such as travel, history, culture and current events in the region. He holds an MPhil with Honours in Byzantine History from Oxford University (1999).
Recreating John Scotus
By Chris Deliso
John Scotus Eriugena was a friend to the poor, and to the poor in spirit, and even to those who dwelled then in darkness and knew not the light; and he was also a grey plush dog with spectacles, black wire-rimmed, that she gave me as a sign of great affection, and around his neck there was later hung a faux silver medal, probably Greek, or at least bought in Greece (a land where, in time, in the company of its master, this dog would see many wonders); his rather more illustrious if equally Irish namesake had been blind to all but negation, though in this singular, apophatic revolt he was never known to hurt an honest mind; but his freedom and desire for man to be free made irate those who would not step toward the light (out of ignorance, or of fear for what it might reveal, this too is not known); and today they still marvel at John’s physical theses, being four in number, with which he defined nature and neatly divided it as:
-that which creates but is not created;
-that which creates and is created;
-that which is created but does not create;
-that which does not create and is not created.
All across the dark of thought his name it did resound, from Nicaea to Aachen to Rome, but no more would he speak the name of God than do I her name, she who gave me the dog John Scotus, a long time before in Galway; and I don’t remember why she named it that, except that it seemed fitting.
And it accompanied us up and down the coastlines wrapped in barren rock and neat-set pubs that rewarded with wet morning color and after, out on the rough seas where the old New York women trailed off from comparing their new Aran knits, taking turns to throw up in the hold; and later we kept going up and around the corners where on cold waves they surf, and to Dunfanaghy where the pub was so small they could fit just three standing, where the publican earnest apologized that on account of it being a Monday the place was empty, though if it were any other day it would have been packed out, and you couldn’t sleep at all there at night because someone had warned the place for sleeping was built on an ancient site of power, and you never know but it could have been true.
And much later the dog accompanied us to Venice and out to the island of Torcello where she saved me again, on the open stone square, where everyone pretended they had not seen it happen.
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