Heinrich von Kleist and all that
I wonder if it is the truly personal navel-gazing nature of our correspondence which makes people not comment on it on your blog – or perhaps it is so universally true that it needs no comment. I don’t care either way, because it’s our correspondence, and I value that in itself. It drags me out of myself when I most need to be dragged out of myself, and I find myself looking at myself from the outside rather than from inside my head, behind my eyes, staring down past the grey hairs on my chest.
And this externalising does lead rather neatly into what you were saying about acting (which I guess does apply to our real-life actions, too). At university, all those generations ago, I studied a text by Heinrich von Kleist (one of my favourite irrationalists) called Über das Marionettentheater (On the Puppet Theatre), the essence of which is that humans are basically incapable of gracefulness because they are always thinking, whereas puppets will always be graceful because they have no thought.
Thus, if we catch a glimpse of ourselves (in a mirror, for example) and like what we see, if we try to consciously repeat that pose, we will never be able to recreate it because we’re consciously thinking about it. You can extrapolate this to all art, and to beauty. And, to bring it from 1810 to the present day, it just proves (to me, anyhow) that selfies are the exact opposite to spontaneous beauty and therefore, as something deeper than vanity or art, absolutely worthless. And, to take it to its ultimate extreme, we can’t be ourselves unless we are so spontaneously, without thinking about it. I suppose that’s what I’ve always believed – or maybe I’m just lazy.
And I mean that about being lazy – when I read about you making plans, setting goals, etc, I wonder if me not making plans or setting goals is the reason for me being miserable so often, the reason for not yet being as successful as I want to be. But then maybe this lack of goals, specific goals, might just actually make the burden I place on myself greater, because it’s just this whole huge expectation that I have to be successful, that each and every thing I touch should turn to gold. And perhaps it’s because of that huge mountain of expectation that I sometimes just sit at my desk unable to do anything because I’m incapable of deciding what to do next.
|Two of my uni text books|
By the way, to reach the cheap seats, we need to project, mainly our voices. It doesn’t mean they’ll listen, but at least they’ll hear. I would probably be an appalling actor. I’m not sure I ever found Molière funny when I was studying him at university. And Corneille was much too convoluted for me – all the formal rhyme schemes etc just did my head in. Maybe it’s that laziness of mine.
When you said you were boring yourself, I was just getting into your self-dialogue. No, academic theories don’t impart absolute knowledge; they merely prove or disprove a discrete part of knowledge. I suppose just like good education doesn’t actually impart knowledge; it gives us the tools with which to acquire knowledge. And right now I’m busy trying to explain to my children (and some friends) that there are no answers to everything, that life really sometimes is just the way it is, without rhyme or reason, that loves are lost and found and lost, that happiness is sometimes (always) transient, that some things are not meant to be easy, nor understood. Like O just said over dinner – it’s all about the journey.
And yes, the journey into 2017 has not exactly been joyous, on every level for me, actually. I find some of my old fears (the main ones of which you are familiar with from our very first exchanges all those years ago) resurfacing, and find myself feeling like I’m 18 again, not 56. If I ever had any certainties, they feel a bit remote right now. But then I think we celebrate New Year at the wrong time. The Earth might be racing back towards the sun, but nothing has significantly changed. If anything, the days seem shorter and darker than before Christmas. We should celebrate New Year on 21st March, when real spring is supposed to start, when things start growing again, when the light really is coming, when things really noticeably start to change. That is what we should do, really.