Tuesday Quought: Now and then a fellow gets to thinking about it.
“Now and then a fellow gets to thinking about it. Not often, though. Which is a good thing. For the Lord aimed for him to do and not to spend too much time thinking, because his brain it’s like a piece of machinery: it won’t stand a whole lot of racking. It’s best when it all runs along the same, doing the day’s work and not no one part used no more than needful.”
William Faulkner, the best of Faulkner, The Reprint Society, London, 1955, p. 38.
I got to thinking about what it is to be an individual. That’s a long time ago that I got to thinking about that. Most of the time I can shake it but then suddenly it is right back here to shake me. Like now.
It takes being a person to be scared not to be the person you’d like to be.
Not everybody wants to be somebody. By far the easiest is to just get attached to a somebody who keeps you from being a nobody. Such is, and always will be, the promise of The Lord. You trade your uncertainties for certainties merely at the cost of understanding.
“I have seen it before in women. Seen them drive from the room them coming with sympathy and pity, with actual help, and clinging to some trifling animal to whom they never were more than pack-horses. That’s what they mean by the love that passeth understanding (..)” ibid., p. 25.
Beat us enough, laugh away our aspirations, make us fear the days we would be independent, and we’re all like women had to be before they fought themselves into the right of being considered individuals. In politics most of us still are like that, coerced into thinking less education, therefore less independence, is good for us.
So I got to thinking about what it is to be an individual.
Let’s consider it established that Lords ain’t got nothing to do with it. Bodies got something to do with it. No identity without entity. But not all: we’re more than pack-horses. More than bodies. Less than Lords. Triangulation is required. “It is me.”, we respond and if anything makes us feel our response is problematic it is whether we hadn’t better responded: “It is I.” But obviously before responding I and you need somebody else to respond to.
Are we individuals at the expense of others? It wouldn’t make a lot of sense if we recognize we need others to be individuals just to go on denying others their individuality. We don’t make a lot of sense most of the time. Then it must be we are individuals by grace of there being others who are individuals by grace … and so forth.
But what’s the stuff that allows separating out individuals and at the same time keeps them necessarily connected? It should be the type of stuff that allows the one only together with many. Language is that stuff.
We are not just in it, we are it.
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