Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cold Outside

Sadness does something to the way we see the world. In the experience of deep sadness, the world itself seems altered in some way: coloured by sadness, or disfigured by it. Rather than living inside us, as our normal passions do, our sadness seems to envelop everything: we live inside it, as if it were a cocoon or a prison. At such times we seem particularly aware of the world as a world, as a place where we have to live. This awareness can become artistic or political: artistic, when the world made strange by our own detachment and dissociation presents itself as an object of fascination; political when the difficulty of going on living in such a world begins to reveal its causes in the impersonal circumstances of our personal sorrows.

Both kinds of awareness have their origins in desolation, in the sense that the world is frozen and that nothing new is possible. Both can lead to terrible paroxysms of destruction, attempts to shatter the carapace of reality and release the authentic self trapped within; but both can also lead away from the self altogether, towards new worldly commitments that recognise the urgent need to develop another logic of existence, another way of going on.

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