Late Narcissus

January 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Everywhere I hear:

“It is a narcissistic age”

An age of self-consciousness and self-conscious, twisting, writing

— has it not been a narcissistic age for some time? Has it not, I dare to venture, already passed, even?

Late Narcissism, then, where it remains.

I’d have thought that we’d have moved beyond that, now. I for one believe in the folly of it.

To follow yourself and aspire toward the Übermensch, to the extent perhaps where you cease to recognise any other being as real.

A detachment from the real and interpretation of all things as signs… How far may your art, your ideas develop without interaction with, the influence of, challenge from another?

Left to our own devices we might steal away and realise genius.

We might twist in a narrow spiral, upon ourselves, small thoughts that fail to evolve.

What about unity? All souls? The greater body? Love?

Tell me, what is there of greater value than our relationships? Regardless of length, type, intensity. Genuine communication. Is communion possible?

I went out last Friday and there was conversation. Conversation that could not have been predicted — or not by all; that surprised. The bodies gathered grew excited with ideas and occasionally perhaps they even saw one another and in the rare moment too, perhaps certain individuals there heard one another.

Are you conscious? Do you know yourself?

Has your consciousness moved from I to We?

What riches are there.

Think: consider the value of teachers. Consider the wonder of meeting a person that you admire; from whom you may learn — with whom you may share. And then realise that they are many.

You may find masters in books and behind paintings, in religious texts and poetry. You may meet a wandering prophet in an ordinary man or simply observe: what lies around.

Do you see beauty here? Or illness and death?

My eyes had grown shaded in the big city and in the underground I saw darkness and disease. On people’s faces: lined fatigue. I did not see beauty there. I stopped looking for it. I stopped prizing it. I sought instead the exit and counted time.

I look now not through an aesthetic lens but rather, a human one.

I select my authors — Saul Bellow, currently — with those eyes.

The Nobel prize I esteem above all others, because it is awarded, I think (and my knowledge lies within literature, predominantly) to the great humane.

Below: speech made by William Faulkner at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, 10 December 1950.



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