Dag Hammarskjöld on transparency

You are not the oil, you are not the air—merely the point of combustion, the flash-point where the light is born. You are merely the lens in the beam. You can only receive, give, and possess the light as a lens does.

If you seek yourself, “your rights,” you prevent the oil and air from meeting in the flame, you rob the lens of its transparency. Sanctity—either to be the Light, or to be self-effaced in the Light, so that it may be born, self-effaced so that it may be focused or spread wider.

You will know Life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency, your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end, and remain purely as a means.
Dag Hammarskjöld in the posthumously published Vägmärken, (Stockholm: A. Bonniers Förlag, 1963). Translated from the Swedish by Leif Sjöberg and W. H. Auden as Markings, (New York: Knopf, 1964). Also available in Manuel Fröhlich’s Political Ethics and the United Nations: Dag Hammarskjöld as Secretary-General, (London; New York: Routledge, 2007), p. 77. Cited in part in “The Fire and its Offering: A Sequence of Photographs Selected by Lee Ewing” in Parabola, Vol. III, No. 2, “Sacrifice and Transformation”, (May 1978), p. 53.

Dag Hammarskjöld Posted on behalf of on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 under Quotations.

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