The Burning of Passion

The German for ‘passion’ is as clear as ancient Greek, and ancient Hebrew, on what this abused word really means. Thus, the German is ‘leidenschaft’, which is close to Kierkegaard’s Danish word ‘sufferingship’, but the German is arguably clearer= it means, according to my German speaking friend, ‘you suffer for something you love.’ The person who told me this then qualified it a bit more; it means, he said, ‘you do something, and suffer, but you do that happily.’

From passion as ‘suffer for love’, clear in Greek, you also get to the Hebrew, ‘carry a burden for love.’ From this you get to, ‘whatever you do that is hard, for love.’ And next you get to, ‘everything you do that is a sacrifice, for love.’

All our crying, sweat, and blood, expended for love, is passion.

All we do that is risky, full of jeopardy and danger, for love, is passion. When we pay a cost for love, in our action, that is passion. Only passion pays the ultimate cost.

Thus passion is love at its most self-giving, self-transcending, and self-emptying. What you do for love, no matter how it comes back and hits you, is passion. Only passion drives action that is of supreme meaning, and purpose, to us. Only in passion do we give it our all.

[1] The Russian playwright Chekhov to a friend= “As far as I can make out the order of things, life consists of nothing but horrors, squabbles, and banalities.”

Without passion, Chekhov is right. This is the world, if passion fails.

[2] The British film-maker John Boorman= “What is passion? It is surely the becoming of a person. Are we not, for most of our lives, marking time? Most of our being is at rest, unlived. In passion, the body and the spirit seek expression outside the self. Passion is all that is other from self. ..The more extreme and the more expressed that passion is, the more unbearable does life seem without it. [This] reminds us that if passion dies or is denied, [then] we are partly dead and that soon.. we will be wholly so.”

[3] The American screen-writer Paddy Chayefsky, scrawled on a scroll in urgent hand writing=

“It is passion that carries man to God
And passion is a balky beast
Few men ever let it out the stable. It brooks no
bridle, indeed it bridles you; it rides the rider.
Yet, it invites man..
above his own inadequate world
and makes real such things as
beauty, imagination, love and God
and all those other things that are not quite
molecular
but are.”

Then in larger letters=

“PASSION
IS THE VERY
FACT OF GOD IN MAN
that makes him other than a brute.”

The existential fact, not some theological vision.