Or, To the Art of Life.
I fear that what follows may reveal a level of seriousness either entirely appropriate or wholly insufficient for the purpose of meaningful living. Of course, I don’t intend to bother with any kind of metaphysical treatments, but rather: Wherein do I find my comforts, my joys and pains, indeed my Grundlagen? Whence comes my composure, and when do I fail it? Am I able to rise beyond myself, and for the right reasons? Perhaps the means of answering such questions are more worthwhile than the answers themselves.
Work has taken me out of town for a while and, absent the usual habits of home, I’ve tried to focus my available time on reading. And not without consequences. What is to be made of it, for example, when with each of Clamence‘s mounting discrepancies I see the case being built against myself? Not, of course, in every indictment, but as a thoroughly contradicted being. Maybe I am too moved by literature, or perhaps the purpose I set as a concern is one of reflection, revision…and ambiguity. Another way: Who is left to blame for shortcomings when mimicking the “art” rather than nurturing it in one’s self? I daresay that in so doing, the pieces are all there, though the purpose is not.
Chacun exige d’être innocent, à tout prix, même si, pour cela, il faut accuser le genre humain et le ciel.
Each of us insists on being innocent at all cost, even if he has to accuse the whole human race and heaven itself.
The quote I’ve placed at the top of the page — “Qui, cher monsieur, qui couchera sur le sol pour nous?” — is from the same book, and in it I find a profound solace; who, indeed, will share our burdens, in this lifetime, here and now? And the answer:
Oui, nous en serons tous capables un jour, et ce sera le salut.
Yes, we shall all be capable of it one day, and that will be salvation.
That said, I continue to find myself reluctant (unwilling? unable?) to attach myself too strongly to any particular line of thinking…if for no other reason but that I’ve found there only the unsatisfying limitations of generalities. Value, if there is such a thing, has always appeared in the cracks and creases of ideas, in their Gegensätze. Or rather, if the loss of nuance associated with the realization, the politicization, of thought continues to be a disappointment, “so beweist das nichts anderes, als daß die Politik eben alles verdirbt.“ Along the way, I may have slipped inadvertently into postmodern tendencies, but that seems to be well enough under control.
At any rate, I sat alone at dinner this evening, reflective, contemplative — and at the next table an old man, alone, hunched over his bowl of soup. The symbolism nearly ended me.