Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On (the absence of) Edification

From an essay review of The Facts of Life (a little known book, probably out of print, containing a chaotic set of notes by R D Laing)
Laing reports that he finds it more and more difficult to write. Anyone who’s read much of his work can understand why. Indeed, one can foresee the day when he will lapse into the silence either of futility or madness. As he himself puts it, “If one thinks about what is the case and what is not the case seriously, intensely and long enough, one seems either to drive oneself insane or to come to the conclusion that almost everyone else is, or that we all are...”

Like Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas, most of Laing’s books end with conclusions in which nothing is concluded. “If I could tell you, I would let you know,” he says in The Bird of Paradise. “The statement is pointless/The finger is speechless” are the closing words of Knots. On the last page of The Facts of Life, Laing tells us, “This book makes no pretensions to be a guide to the perplexed. I am myself perplexed.” But, as always, in trying to convey the nature of his own perplexity, Laing succeeds in helping us open our eyes to our own.
It echoes how I feel about writing these days.

What to describe, except the inexorability of our condition...

9 comments:

Modern Man said...

Harman,

I tip my hat to you, sir.

-MM

Susan said...

Since we do choose to go on (or are made to choose to go on or simply go on) living in this world notwithstanding the inexorable condition that we are in, may be it doesn't do harm in filling your time with your writings and helping your readers fill theirs with reading your articles :-)

Hope to see "Facts of Life Part 2" soon.

Anonymous said...

The path to Truth ends in wordlessness. If it is Truth one seeks, one has to go beyond words, which means one has to go beyond the very mother of all thoughts and words - the "I". Does one have the courage to plunge into this sea of silence to seek it? Does one have the courage to let go of the "I"?
If one does not, then one can only learn to swim or sail their boat, on the surface, balancing the forces of the "I" and the "You" in a sea of thoughts - words, a sea of waves and sounds, a sea we call the "world".
It is the limited scope of words that you are experiencing. All truths cannot be mapped to words. Some may only be experienced.

Anonymous said...

Keep writing Harman! Yours is one of the few blogs I constantly revisit and is where I find an intellectual soul brother. Life may be meaningless but it sure is a heck of a lot of fun to ponder its meaninglessness.

And for some profoundly odd reason it doesnt feel like a waste of time to do so.

Anonymous said...

Ab to ghabra ke yeh kehtey hain ke marr jayeingey
Maar ke bhi chain na paya to kidhar jayeingey

Anonymous said...

If you are following this path now, your next step will be on the U.G.´s track.

Anonymous said...

From the Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam:

Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scatter'd, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.


Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd .....
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

whoami said...

what do you think of Jung..?

Anonymous said...

Dear Harman, Think about why you started to write a blog. Maybe that will give you something to write about.