Essay On Autobiography Of A Notebook

Essay On Autobiography Of A Notebook-82
Yet if my tooth aches, it is after all my ache, though you may be better informed than I of the swelling; if my heart is sore, that soreness is unique, though its heaviness does not even tremble the balance bar; if I am afraid, do not complacently say you share my fear and understand my state, for how can you know how I feel? Isn’t that how we reject so much sympathy-stale candy on a staler plate? If we leap rapidly enough from one side of this insistence to its denial from the belief that only I can know how I am to the view that only another can see me really-we can quickly persuade ourselves that neither self-knowledge nor any other kind is possible, and, so persuaded, sink dizzily to the floor. And the consequent division of the self into the-one-who-was and the-one-who-is.

Yet if my tooth aches, it is after all my ache, though you may be better informed than I of the swelling; if my heart is sore, that soreness is unique, though its heaviness does not even tremble the balance bar; if I am afraid, do not complacently say you share my fear and understand my state, for how can you know how I feel? Isn’t that how we reject so much sympathy-stale candy on a staler plate? If we leap rapidly enough from one side of this insistence to its denial from the belief that only I can know how I am to the view that only another can see me really-we can quickly persuade ourselves that neither self-knowledge nor any other kind is possible, and, so persuaded, sink dizzily to the floor. And the consequent division of the self into the-one-who-was and the-one-who-is.Since, to accomplish our death, there are a thousand similar and similarly scientific ways, but inside that shutting down of the senses there is a dread belonging to no one else even in the same sad medical shape; there is a large dread like an encountered rat, huge, as if fat as an idol, bearded like some ancient northern warrior, yet as indistinct in its corner and as ineffectual as lint. Knowing has two poles, and they are always poles apart: carnal knowing, the laying on of hands, the hanging of the fact by head or heels, the measurement of mass and motion, the calibration of brutal blows, the counting of supplies; and spiritual knowing, invisibly felt by the inside self, who is but a fought-over field of distraction, a stage where we recite the monotonous monologue that is our life, a knowing governed by internal tides, by intimations, motives, resolutions, by temptations, secrecy, shame, and pride. Of course, we might, by letting the two positions stretch out alongside each other and observing how these two kinds of information are of equal value and are complementary, conclude that for a full account both the “in” and the “out” are needed. It is usually wise to do whatever Spinoza suggests. The-one-who-is has the advantage of having been the-one-who-was, Once.Which, do you think then, really hatches chicks in the yard?

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Does the geologist need to infer an interior to his rock to read its past? Does the zoologist attribute suffering to his frogs as he runs his scalpel round their gizzards?

Why, we could weep a world of pain into a thimble and have hollow enough left over for a finger, since consciousness never struts and frets upon the stage or occupies a locker in the dressing room.

I think I have a winning smile, but to those on whom my smile is so winsomely conferred, the slightly turned-down corners of its lips convey despair, disgust, disdain-I know not what uninvited attitude in addition-and invariably, if in tears, though I argue my happiness like William Jennings Bryan on behalf of God, the weeping will convict me of a lie, as far as mere onlookers are concerned; because we really believe in no other consciousness than our own, and must infer the contents of another’s mind from the perceptions that arrive in ours: from an overheard voice, its screams and groans and heavy breathing; from a body, its weight and posture; from someone’s gait, the swagger; and from the face, its signs.

Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address. Nor is the ugliness of my gnarled feet evident anywhere within my skin, where I alone can feel what splendid shape they’re in.

Unless, of course, there’s money in it and people will pay to peer at his mistakes as they pay to enter the hermaphrodite’s tent at the fair-ladies to the left, please, then gents, thank you, there to the right, between the chaste screen of canvas.

An honest autobiography is as amazing a miracle as a doubled sex, and every bit as big a freak of nature.The-one-who-was is, furthermore, at the present self’s mercy, for it may not wish to remember that past, or it may wish the-one-who-was was other than the one it was, and consequently alter its description, since the-one-who-is is writing this history and has the upper hand.Every moment a bit of the self slides away toward its station in the past, where it will be remembered partially, if at all; with distortions, if at all; and then rendered even more incompletely, with graver omissions and twists to the plot by the play of the pen, so that its text will no doubt be subsequently and inaccurately read, systematically misinterpreted and put to use in yet another version, possibly by a biographer bent on revising the customary view of you and surrounding his selected subject with himself, as Sartre surrounded Genet, as a suburb surrounds a town and slowly sucks its center out.That blood caked, that blood colored, only the blades.Biography, the writing of a life, is a branch of history, but a broken branch, snapped perhaps heartlessly from the trunk, at the moment when Montesquieu directed the historian’s eye to larger themes and toward those general social aspects from which the individual’s traits, he believed, had more specifically sprung. Biographies are sometimes written with the aid of the biographee, and these few are therefore open-ended too, centrally incomplete, for death normally does the summing up, the bell tolls for the tale beneath whose telling the deceased shall be buried, with the faith that he or she shall rise again on publication day, all ancient acts only pages then, every trait an apt description, every quality of character an anecdote, the mind squeezed within a quip, and the hero’s, or heroine’s, history headed not for heaven but for the shelf. What kind of figure can I count on cutting in another’s consciousness or on that most merciless of public stages-the printed page?History is something we catch in the act, and only acts have public consequences.No, he will think of himself as having led a life so important it needs celebration, and of himself as sufficiently skilled at rendering as to render it rightly.Certainly, he will not begin his task believing he has led a botched life and will now botch the botch.Yet, except for the encyclopedia of the dead, as Danilo Kiš imagined it, where everybody’s obit is already complete or in meticulous construction, the majority of mankind rest, as George Eliot wrote, in unvisited tombs and have left behind them nothing of their former presence but perhaps a hackneyed scratch upon a stone. Caesar’s assassins did not stab him with their souls.In Hades, their shades are not stained by the murdered man’s blood.

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