Josna Rege

199. Quest

In Inter/Transnational, Stories, Words & phrases on April 19, 2013 at 11:59 pm

The Destruction of Sennacherib by Gustav Dore (

For centuries human beings, armed and dangerous, have taken to the roads and seas, setting out for distant lands in search of riches, precious commodities that they can rob and pillage through trickery and violence, and bear back home as their own. They have subjugated the people whose wealth they have appropriated and sought to convince them—and themselves—that divine Providence, not all-too-human Greed, wields their sword. Their goal, as they swoop down like a plague on their unsuspecting victims, is conquest.

Lao Tzu with disciple (

Lao Tzu with disciple (

But there’s another urge that has impelled the wanderers of the world to its four corners. This impulse is quickened by a desire to meet and mingle with fellow human beings different from themselves, a love of beauty, an ever-renewed sense of wonder. Their goal is not to despoil, to enslave men to toil, to plant their flags in foreign soil. Their road is not a warpath, but a walkabout, a way; like life itself, a journey; not conquest, but Quest.

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  1. I always find it so deeply saddening in how we always interpret history within the context of war and imperialistic victories. I remember the first time ever I walked through St Paul’s Cathedral. What struck me so forcefully was the fact that it was essentially a monument to war and conquests. I found myself caught up in such a paradox; on the one hand there was the beauty, the spirituality and magnificence of the place, breathtaking, on the other an obsession with war and military victories. It just didn’t add up. Why is it, Josna, that we find it so difficult to see it from the perspective you have shared here. The hope is that there those who do. great post as usual. Thank you.

    • Yes, Don, I suppose much of the great architecture, art, even music of the world is a tribute to power, “a monument to war and conquests,” as you put it. I hadn’t realized that St. Paul’s was, too. Sigh.

  2. Perfect!

  3. The world seems, luckily, to be moving towards the latter perspective.
    Thanks for yr thorough approach to reading my story. I replaced the Croach image with one equally as powerful – & more dispassionate. Dispassion towards one’s characters is, I feel, one of the hallmarks of a gd author – one in whose judgement we know we can trust. Thanks for pushing me the right way. L

    • Thanks for your hopeful comment about a changing world. I tend to be rather pessimistic about these things, so it’s good to have a corrective.
      I’ve never corresponded with an author before about her artistic choices! I must say the “croach” was very effective in making my skin crawl. But now I’ll be able to follow the story without the risk of having my skin crawl on a regular basis. Cheers, J

  4. That first picture is truly horrifying, as are so many illustrations in the Bible. I think I am about ready to find a donkey and make a quest to that peaceful valley between two mountains that my family has always talked about finding.

  5. It is so much easier to respect those on a quest , than a conquest.. While the former is all about expanding and enriching the soul, the latter is achieved mainly by those who heed their baser instincts…

    • Of course, some of those who set out on a conquest may find themselves making an inner journey. I didn’t mean to set up a total evil/good binary. But obviously I haven’t been found much to say in favor of conquest! Thanks, Swapna.

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