The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

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Author QuotedSophocles
Title QuotedAntigone
Date (Year/Month/Day)1962/07/14
Imprint 
QuotationI wonder if the best thing in the world to read in a period of night is Ruysbroeck? Personally I rather doubt it. I think that he will only make you feel worse. Have you ever tried reading Sophocles or Aeschylus at such a time? In the first place they have the immense advantage of being people you at no time have to agree with. The whole notion of one's "spiritual stat" is not called into question, and therefore they can get in under your guard, so to speak, and I find that the Antigone or Oedipus at Colonus is most helpful in a shattering sort of way. We simply have to get away from this business of weighing spiritual values in the balance against one another especially in the night when in any case it is almost impossible anyway. In the night it is intolerable to raise the question of right and wrong because we are in a sense simply wrong and in another sense out of the whole area of argument altogether. That is precisely the atmosphere of Greek religious tragedy. It is much healthier than our obsession with the fear that if we are not somehow optimistic we are lost. In the night optimism and pessimism are both meaningless.
JournalThe Hidden Ground of Love: The Letters of Thomas Merton on Religious Experience and Social Concerns.; Selected and edited by William H. Shannon. / New York : Farrar Straus Giroux. 1985, p. 353-54
Link to Merton's Copy