I have lived secluded for many years now. Not that I have no contact with the world, but I keep my distance. I look at it and analyze what I see through a filter of philosophy and poetry. I also get older, and the advantage of youth is slipping away, wherein you see all the grownups as living in a different world. Authority impresses when you’re young, but now that I am 50, I have little illusion left that someone knows what they are doing. Sure, most people think they know what they are doing, but self-reflection is a sparsely dealt out gift.
I see all these world leaders and bosses being confident and proclaiming what has to happen. Some rally the sheep, and others threaten nuclear destruction out of a delusional belief in themselves. Thousands of leaders have a direction formed in their minds that they follow, and none of these thousands of direction point in the same direction. For me, an outsider, this seems strange. Don’t they see that you can’t defend your direction in the light of all those other ones? They can not all be true, and why would yours be?
I understand that living with some kind of “truth” in yourself makes life easier. Doubting is nerve-wracking and keeps you on your toes, but one of my adopted truths is that the period between birth and death is not to be used to feel calm and at ease or pick a side. I don’t have the obsession to find and keep some kind of peace in myself and a side… sides are for people who need company. For me, living still means growing or shrinking but, in any way, moving.
The door is still closed
to keep the fresh air in
Simone de Beauvoir
The second sex
When she does not find love, she may find poetry. Because she does not act, she observes, she feels, she records; a color, a smile awakens profound echoes within her; her destiny is outside her, scattered in cities already built, on the faces of men already marked by life, she makes contact, she relishes with passion and yet in a manner more detached, more free, than that of a young man. Being poorly integrated in the universe of humanity and hardly able to adapt herself therein, she, like the child, is able to see it objectively; instead of being interested solely in her grasp on things, she looks for their significance; she catches their special outlines, their unexpected metamorphoses. She rarely feels a bold creativeness, and usually she lacks the technique of self-expression; but in her conversation, her letters, her literary essays, her sketches, she manifests an original sensitivity. The young girl throws herself into things with ardor, because she is not yet deprived of her transcendence; and the fact that she accomplishes nothing, that she is nothing, will make her impulses only the more passionate. Empty and unlimited, she seeks from within her nothingness to attain All.
IV. Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature. First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of this in the facts of experience. Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity: such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead bodies. The cause of this again is, that to learn gives the liveliest pleasure, not only to philosophers but to men in general; whose capacity, however, of learning is more limited. Thus the reason why men enjoy seeing a likeness is, that in contemplating it they find themselves learning or inferring, and saying perhaps, ‘Ah, that is he.’ For if you happen not to have seen the original, the pleasure will be due not to the imitation as such, but to the execution, the coloring, or some such other cause.
Consider the cattle, grazing as they pass you by: they do not know what is meant by yesterday or today, they leap about, eat, rest, digest, leap about again, and so from morn till night and from day to day, fettered to the moment and its pleasure or displeasure, and thus neither melancholy nor bored. This is a hard sight for man to see; for, though he thinks himself better than the animals because he is human, he cannot help envying them their happiness – what they have, a life neither bored nor painful, is precisely what he wants, yet he cannot have it because he refuses to be like an animal. A human being may well ask an animal: ‘Why do you not speak to me of your happiness but only stand and gaze at me?’ The animal would like to answer, and say: ‘The reason is I always forget what I was going to say’ -but then he forgot this answer too, and stayed silent: so that the human being was left wondering. But he also wonders at himself, that he cannot learn to forget but clings relentlessly to the past: however far and fast he may run, this chain runs with him. And it is a matter for wonder: a moment, now here and then gone, nothing before it came, again nothing after it has gone, nonetheless returns as a ghost and disturbs the peace of a later moment. A leaf flutters from the scroll of time, floats away- and suddenly floats back again and falls into the man’s lap. Then the man says ‘I remember’ and envies the animal, who at once forgets and for whom every moment really dies, sinks back into night and fog and is extinguished for ever…
words have been hanging out there
like on the banner
with hardly any fibers left
the words disappeared
absorbed at most
by the surrounding
I ask around
but only dare to look
if someone knows
afraid for the answerI decide
it has been hanging there far too long