It’s easier to establish a voice after leaving home. Surrounded by expression so foreign from my own makes me feel more alone. And there’s comfort in the solitude. Background voices merge into a mush of sounds. Hidden in a cafe, away on a train. Language becomes noise. Until I hear my own. That familiar accent pierces past and I distract. Mind deciphers meaning. “We sold two so far.” “She was so wasted she couldn’t stand.” “Should I be writing this all down?” The words of others crowd my mind and expel any I want to read or write. Familiarity pauses attention. Everything stops. I fall under a spell of the known, craving the strange again. Lips moving in silence. Everywhere I go, one language turns up the volume and pulls me back. Drowns out stream of thought. The others become a sea of sound I can sense, but not grasp. A loss of comprehension can liberate. Submerged in the unknown, searching for significance. An inner voice becomes more clear. More distinct. I can think.
Is all theory anecdotal if free will is a myth? If we had no control over the world we entered, the books written before us, or the options presented to us, then isn’t any theory/choice constructed by our very personal, lived experiences?
The delicately fantastic iconography of the fourteenth century, where castles are toppled like dice, where the Beast is always the traditional dragon held at bay by the Virgin, in short where the order of God and its imminent victory are always apparent, gives way to to a vision of the world where all wisdom is annihilated. This is the great witches’ Sabbath of nature: mountains melt and become plains, the earth vomits up the dead and bones tumble out of tombs; the stars fall, the earth catches fire, all life withers and comes to death. The end has no value as passage and promise; it is the advent of a night in which the old world’s reason is engulfed.”
Madness and Civilization:
A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason
We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.”
Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where it all comes from and where it is leading? You well know you are in a period of transition and want nothing more than to be transformed.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet
Reason is unquestionably a fine thing, but reason is no more than reason, and gives fulfillment only to man’s reasoning capacity, while desires are a manifestation of the whole of life — I mean the whole of human life, both with its reason and with all its itches and scratches. And though our life in these manifestations will often turn out a pretty sorry mess, it is still life and not a mere extraction of square roots. After all, I quite naturally want to live in order to fulfill my whole capacity for living, and not in order to fulfill my reasoning capacity alone, which is no more than some one-twentieth of my capacity for living. What does reason know? It knows only what it has managed to learn, while human nature acts as a complete entity, with all that is in it, consciously or unconsciously; and though it may be wrong, it’s nevertheless alive.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky
Notes from Underground
Her powerlessness to communicate is apparent in the dialogue she writes: the people talk along lines that never cross; each has his own language, which the other does not understand. Even in love, especially in love, any exchange is impossible, because Violette Leduc cannot accept a duality in which she sees lurking the threat of separation.”
– Simone de Beauvoir
La Bâtarde preface