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Every drop of a wave that might destroy a city bears the power of that wave, though if it thinks it himself is the ocean, it will hopelessly be evaporated by the first sunbeam. What was first anchored in a whole became an individual, a name, and immediately a target, a prey. To acquire a name is quite an adventure, dramatic, heroic; it is a magical attribute. Who knows that name has power over the object, for good or for evil. That is what the SF literature says at least.

Everything in the all-revelation has a name, be it known or not known. The only entity that has no name we usually call 'God'. We may hear about 'the Name of God', but nobody names that name. The Whirligig of Guido Gezelle 'writes and rewrites the holy name of God', but no one can read it. A name defines, determines what it is and what it is not. But how do you name something that is simultaneously everything and nothing?

And yet an eternal thrust in us drives to give a name and a shape to this ‘everything-and-nothing’ because we experience it as a reality that we can either worship or fight. Reason builds and rebuilds theories; the heart awaits the unexpected. Just because of the innate fear that this elusive name will one time swallow us up. If we only could place ‘it’ before us - man-to-man - to get rid of that unbearable tension. But in this we never succeed; it is the ultimate confrontation with ourselves, the last place where we seek the name, the Being. This awareness, this knowledge, is not called 'Gnosis' for nothing, the 'Knowledge of the heart', an axiom that we cannot encompass, but that clearly encompasses us.

The earthly alliance of art, science and religion is one endeavour to channel that annoying image-in-us into safe channels. But this unbridled Being always breaks through the cracks and crevices of those shaky constructions, and time and again we flee into the safe mass of the outstretched hand, the eternal offer to free us from the drop, which keeps the water trapped time and again.

But some fine day the desire will overcome the fear of existence and we shall discover through the drop the water that we carried with us for so long; shall discover the wave and its strength, the sea and its tranquillity. What we first experienced as a threat, now unfolds into a wholesome stream that clears all fears and prejudices and then reveals the sober and yet redeeming truth: it was ultimately not the drop and its exaggerated names that was important but the One Name, reflected in the water.

All suspicion and opposition crumble and reveal the wide ocean where our true name is known and our place and role become increasingly apparent. The roar of your wave fades and a new sound tingles, as it were, on the inner horizon, so far away - and yet so near: The rustling of the Name that cannot be pronounced.


O whirling and wriggling small waterthing!

Your cassock is black and much quaint,

I see your firm head and with wonder I think

Of how the surface you paint!


You live and you move and you run that fast

Yet no limbs I see how I try

You turn and well know the way you pass

Yet I don`t see one single eye


What were, or what are or what will you be,

Explain it and tell it me, please!

A shiny small button, say, what are we?

Why can you keep writing at ease?


You run over water so mirror slick

And it shows just a slight tiny waft,

Like touched with a mild wind, escaping quick,

That over the water flies soft


O writers, o writers, just clarify, -

You are at least twenty or more

And no one of you can specify: -

What do you write, maybe draw?


You write and the water keeps nothing seen,

The written is out and gone;

The Christians don`t grip what it does mean:

O writer, what did you work on?


And is that a little fish you depict?

And is that the herbs you describe?

A bloom, or a rock, or a leaf is it now?

What floating words do you type?


Or, maybe, you picture a bird who whines,

The firmament, with its blue wealth,

That under and over you brightly shines,

Or is that you, writer, yourself?


The master of making the water signs,

Whose cassock is black and much quaint,

It lifted the ears like two straight lines,

And such for a while they remained.


It gave us the answer while floating:

We write what in earlier times

The Master-Creator has taught us,

Just one lesson learning the primes;


We write, you can`t read, but we wonder

Why you couldn`t learn on the spot!

We write, we rewrite and we write it anew

The Holy Name of our God!"


Guido Gezelle, 1857 (Anonymous translator)


Reference: This article first appeared in Pentagram 2018 number 3

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