Whence comes the name of this blog? It's common, even expected, for a blog to have strange "catchy" name. The reasons for this one's name are manifold. Bascially I like the word:
In modern Greek, as I understand it, there is a connotation of nostalgia and is the term for “diaspora.” Patristically speaking, it is a monkish word, applied a class of monastics who wander instead of being fixed to a particular hermitage or monastery. Often it is used to mean “pilgrimage”, though sometimes of an open-ended sort. But the strongest and most well known use is best translated “renunciation” or “exile”, usually self-imposed and frequently psychological rather than simply physical. Far and away the most famous text is this:
There is such a thing as exile, and irrevocable renunciation of everthing in one’s familiar surroundings that hinders one from attaining the ideal of holiness. Exile is a disciplined heart, unheraled wisdom, an unpublicized understainding, a hidden life, masked ideals. It is unseen meditation, the striving to be humble, a wish for poverty, the longing for what is divine. It is an outpouring of love, a denial of vainglory, a depth of silence.
...I mean separation from their relations for the sake of hardship and simplicity which drives on the lovers of this good. Yet for all that it is praiseworthy, it requires discretion, since not every kind of exile is good if taken to extremes.
....Exile is a separation from everything, in order that one may hold on totally to God. It is a chosen route of great grief. An exile is a fugitive, running from all relationships with his own relatives and with strangers.
....A true exile, despite his possession of knowledge, sits like someone of foreign speech among men of other tongues.
As far as I know, there is only one use of it in the LXX:
Instead whereof thou gavest them a burning pillar of fire, both to be a guide of the unknown journey, and an harmless sun to entertain them honourably. The Book of Wisdom 18:3.
So the literal sense is simply "wandering", extended metaphorically to be a "retreat from the world."
St. John goes on to cite the two most important instances of xeniteia:
There is no greater example of renunciation than that great man [Abraham] who heard the command, "Leave your country and your family and the house of your father" (Gen. 12:1). Obediently he went to a foreign country where the language was different.
...let us remind ourselves at once of Him Who came down from heaven for our benefit and exiled Himself to earth.
So that that should explain many of the interests apparent in this present blog. It should also throw light on the "On Exile: in land, spirit" part of the gloss. As for the "and imagination", I'll comment eventually on the spiritual side of what St. John has to say about that; what is generally meant, however, is my interest in literature and travel-writing. Again, there is the twofold nature of the word at work - on one hand I'm interested in literature that devotes itself to expatriatism and foreign-ness, but also those works that serve as a means of psychological and spiritual retreat.