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Faist & Faust: let go, walk on and make the infinite your home

Just watched the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story (2021) and this one actor REALLY stood out: Mike Faist.


Also, great name. Reminds me of Faust. Faist hails from Ohio, but who knows, they might be related.


Let's double check Faust on wikipedia:

Mephistopheles proposes a wager to Faust: If he can grant Faust a moment of transcendence on earth, a moment that he wishes to remain forever, then he will instantly die and serve the devil in hell.

Intriguingly, Faist, in this interview, quite literally describes the deal his (I now believe to be probable) great-great-great-great-grandfather made with the the one and only Mephistopheles (the devil, that is):

“You just have to keep moving forward,” Faist said. “These moments, they come, they’re precious, but don’t be precious about them, because they come and go. Enjoy the moment, but keep going.” He paused to laugh, everything coming full circle. “I mean, there’s a song about that in ‘Sunday in the Park with George’ from Stephen Sondheim!,” he said. “You’ve got to just keep moving on.”

Where Faust wagers his life on the impossibilty of finding a moment of transcendence in life, Faist says that by holding on to these moments, you stop living. If you make them precious, why, terrible things might happen, no? One might ‘die’ and, I don’t know, ‘SERVE THE DEVIL IN HELL!’

Al least it is comforting to know we don't always make the same silly mistakes our ancestors made like eating strange apples or gambling our souls away to the devil.

So, if we have to keep going, what‘s next?

In Faust: the sequel (or Faust. Der Tragödie zweiter Teil in füng Akten), this happens:

Ultimately, Faust goes to Heaven, for he loses only half of the bet. Angels, who arrive as messengers of divine mercy, declare at the end of Act V: "He who strives on and lives to strive / Can earn redemption still"

Right! Kind of exactly like the great-great-great-great-great-grandson says, with maybe a touch less stylistic flourish than the angels (them being the Messengers of Divine Mercy, so who can blame him): "you've got to just keep moving on."

Faist, here seen walking his talk “you've got to just keep moving on.”

Coincidentally, I'm now reading Alan Watts, and, in a chapter called 'Zen', which is about Zen, which is impossible to talk or write about, he writes about something similar:

If anything that lives and moves is held, it dies just like a plucked flower. Egotism is a fierce holding on to oneself; it is building oneself up in a haughty stronghold, refusing to join in the play of life, refusing to accept the eternal laws of change of movement to which all are subject. But that refusal can only be illusion. Whether we like it or not, change comes, and the greater the resistance, the greater the pain. (…) Life is like music in this: if any note or phrase is held for longer than its appointed time, the melody is lost. Thus Buddhism may be summed up in two phrases: “Let go!” and “Walk on!”

Isn’t that beautiful?

If anything that lives and moves is held, it dies just like a plucked flower.

Refusing to join in the play of life: West Side Story anyone? Which, incidentally, is also about the need to let go and accepting the eternal laws of change of movement - ‘the greater the resistance, the greater the pain’ might even be its motto.

Holding on to your note for too long in this symphony of life, holding on to oneself, you fall into egotism. Sometimes, the ego is described as the devil: the purely rational part of our being, held back by and holding on to old pattens of behavior, never able to change. Imagine being completely in the ego’s hold. Coming back to Faust, it might be compared with dying, and that form of living akin to ‘serving the devil in hell.’ Now the ego in itself ain’t all that bad, indispensable even, but giving it/him/her the reigns to your life might not be wise. A bad deal. The worst even: a deal with the devil.

Dorian Gray, forever trying to hold onto the ever changing…

Coincidentally, I ALSO just happened to have read a story about three fish, by Sufi poet (the most famous of them all!) Rumi:


This is the story of the lake and the three big fish

that were in it, one of them intelligent,

another half-intelligent,

and the third, stupid.

I would say that’s a pretty good start to a story. Then, danger approaches by way of fishermen with nets. The smart fish being smart decides to move, and so it continues:

When you’re travelling, ask a traveller for advice,

not someone whose lameness keeps him in one place.

Muhammad says,

"Love of one's country

is part of the faith."

But don't take that literally!

Your real "country" is where you're heading,

not where you are.

Don't misread that hadith* (*saying by Muhammad).


It's right to love your home place, but first ask,

"Where is that, really?"'


Sometimes there is no one to talk to.

You must set out on your own.

So, the half smart fishy, in doubt, thinks 'Shit, I should've gone with my smart fish friend’ (this was Louis again - the smart reader might be able to differentiatie between Rumi’s and my prose, the disclaimer for the half-assed fishies out there).

Back to Rumi:

Don't regret what's happened. If it's in the past,

let it go. Don't even remember it!

Easy for a gold fish with a seven second memory to say!

Back to the fishies, gold or otherwise. The smart one is gone, because he is smart (and courageous, for leaving the imagined home, one's safe environment, needs courage. Ask Frodo! Or yourself, for that matter).

The 'half-intelligent' fish then, decides that - after sticking around and not following the guide as he calls the smart fish - playing dead is the way to go in this particular situation.

I'll belly up on the surface

and float like weeds float, just giving myself totally to the water. To die before I die, as Muhammad said to.

So he did that.

Then he's left by the fisherman, and secretly slides back into the water. Finally, we end with the end of the half-assed one. We feel the inevitable tragedy closing in, like, let's say, a net:

The net, of course, finally closed

around him, and as he lay in the terrible

frying-pan bed, he thought,

"If I get out of this,

I'll never live again in the lmits of a lake.

Next time, the ocean! I'll make the infinite my home."

To make the infinite one's home! Yes! But how?

Understanding that there is no holding on to anything. NO past, NO future.

Like Rumi said, earlier in the poem:

It's right to love your home place, but first ask, "Where is that, really?"'

It is al coming together now. Almost there.


He continues striving untill the end of his life and it is in this continued pursuit, despite the partnership with the devil, that saves his soul.

Followed by Faist:

“Enjoy the moment, but keep going.” (Faist) paused to laugh, everything coming full circle.

Whence What Watts said:

If anything that lives and moves is held, it dies just like a plucked flower.


Thus Buddhism may be summed up in two phrases: “Let go!” and “Walk on!”

And so the life of a smart fish might also be summed up in two phrases. And - wait a minute - the life of an actor might ALSO be summed up in two phrases. COME TO THINK OF IT: LIVING may be summed up in two phrases. So! Listen to the fish, to Faisty Fausts, to Watts his name:

Let go!! Walk on!!!

And let the infinite be your home.


ok, one more:

Ok, ONE more (just look at van Dijk and Klopp’s faces):


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