On Homesickness. - The second time I went to New England was after a prolonged time in the deep south. My tenure at Louisiana State University had come to a close (relativel...
Friday, August 10, 2012
Insane in the Montaigne
Sartre got me sick. His damn nausea, contagious from typed ink on a book written more than 30 years before I was born. But it's not the ink, it's the words are contagious. No, not the words, the ideas behind them.
I wouldn't be concerned if I were you. Maybe you were vaccinated. Maybe they don't get to you. But the existentialists have always soared me and sunk me. It's not that they are right or wrong, it's that they speak to how I am wired. The questions I have, the ones I ask when driving to or from work, or when I wake up, or when I can't sleep. These questions you either ask, or you don't. Some ask them.
Jim Holt asks them. He has compiled and culled a book called "Why Does the World Exist?" I've been asking that question since I was knee-deep in marsh water building bridges and forts to play war. It's part of what tractor-beamed me to study philosophy. Holt digs in and asks folks that might know something about it. I'm just digging into his book, but if you want a taste, Kathryn Schulz wrestles with the idea and the book in one of the most thought-provoking book reviews I've read. Check the technique.
Philosophers, poets and storytellers are the dog-walkers who lead me around by a leash. I don't follow blindly, but I'm led. I'm not after answers, but possibilities.
Our seven year old can't stop singing Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Brain." (for the record, it's the edited for radio version on a mix CD, she really doesn't get the lyrics, just the sticky hook). I can't blame her, I've always dug Cypress Hill myself.
At the same time, I've been reading Michel de Montaigne's "Essays." Montaigne didn't mind searching himself for answers, examining what he thought, on the page, to see what he thought. In his words, "I put forward formless and unresolved notions... not to establish truth, but to seek it."
I think that's what I'm after, or maybe what I'm trying to do. A life's pursuit. Maybe. Or I might just be insane in the Montaigne...