Language's Inadequacies

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Nothing Left to Lose

"My jaw throbbed.  Rubbing it with my hand seemed to have no good or bad effect: the pain was deep and untouchable.  Because the pain was genuinely unanticipated, there was no residue of anxiety to alter my experience of it.  Anxiety and anticipation, I was to learn, are the essential ingredients in suffering from pain, as opposed to feeling pain pure and simple.  This alien ache was probably my first and last experience unadulterated pain, which perplexed me more than it hurt me.”

- pg 16, Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face

How much suffering is in our head?

Filed under lucy grealy

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Time to Pretend

"Even the tools I used I felt belonged to them; words, for example: I wanted my own words.  But the ones I use have dragged through I don’t know how many consciences; they arrange themselves in my head by virtue of the habits I have picked up from the others and it is not without repugnance that I use them in writing to you.”

- pg. 51, Jean-Paul Sartre, Intimacy

"He could not rely on a philosophical treatise to persuade people they did not exist.  Action was needed, a really desperate act which would dissolve appearances and show the nothingness of the world in full light.  A shot, a young body bleeding on the carpet, a few words scribbled on a piece of paper: ‘I kill myself because I do not exist.  And you too, my brothers, you are nothingness!’  People would read the newspaper in the morning and would see ‘An adolescent has dared;’ And each would feel himself terribly troubled and would wonder, ‘And what about me?  Do I exist?’”

- pg. 103

"He had believed that he existed by chance for a long time, but it was due to a lack of sufficient thought…’I exist,’ he thought, ‘because I have the right to exist.’”

- pg. 158

Filed under Sartre Intimacy

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A Team

"Attention consists in suspending thought, leaving it available, empty and ready to be entered by its object…thought must be empty, waiting, seeking nothing, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object that is about to penetrate it" 

- Simone Weil


Filed under attention Simone Weil

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All I Have

The ideal essay:

"Excellent in every way (this is not the same as perfect).  This is an ambitious, perceptive essay that grapples with interesting, complex ideas; responds discerningly to counter-arguments; and explores well-chosen evidence revealingly.  The discussion enhances, rather than underscores, the reader’s and writer’s knowledge (it doesn’t simply repeat what has been taught).  There is a context for all the ideas; someone outside the class would be enriched, not confused, by reading the essay.  Its beginning opens up, rather than flatly announces, its thesis.  Its end is something more than a summary.  The language is clean, precise, often elegant.  As a reader I feel surprised, delighted, changed.  There’s something new here for me, something only the essay’s writer could have written and explored in this particular way.  The writer’s sake in the material is obvious.

- “A Grading Rubric,” Maxine Rodburg 

Filed under writing essay

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Breathe in Breathe Out

On the distinction between thinking/believing and feeling/owning/applying that belief/knowledge:

"Why do many women find The Story of O erotic, and why is there a ‘split’ between sexual fantasy and that which one might find pleasurable or erotic in real life? ….

It is perfectly possible to agree ‘in one’s head’ that certain images of women might be reactionary or damaging or oppressive, while remaining committed to them in emotion and desire.  I suspect that this ‘split’ happens at times in all women, and perhaps particularly in those who have some commitment to feminism.  And what it suggests is that the structures of desire, emotion, and fantasy have deep roots of some sort in the self which are not necessarily amenable in any simple way to processes of conscious rational argument.  An adequate theory of subjectivity has to recognize and try to to understand these roots.”

It is so easy to think and so difficult to feel or apply.  What does this say about the self?

"[People] must, for example, be able to think of themselves as ‘the sort of person who does have [XYZ] desires,’ is prepared to avow them as ‘part’ of the self, and ceases to be so threatened by them….The dialectic of autonomy is one in which a constant (but never static or final) search for control and coherence needs balancing against a realism and tolerance born out of efforts to understand ourselves (and others) better.”

- Grimshaw, “Autonomy and Identity in Feminist Thinking”

Filed under Jean Grimshaw self contradition