Loss is perhaps the ultimate philosophical problem — and death, only incidentally and to the extent it is experienced as loss by those who remain alive. The great absolute architectonics of systematic thought are intended to secure the world against loss. Maturity is achieved when things are let go, left to be on their own, allowed their specificity — for when things become most fully themselves, they also become most fully losable. To abandon classical system is to accept, in the sense of comprehend, the ontological necessity of loss. The more precious a thing is, the greater becomes its power to hurt us by simply being absent. We end up ‘leaving each thing as it is’ in two senses of the word ‘leave’.
This is agonizingly true.
I have come to detest self-evasion: abandonment of our first-person post, and flying to the safety of third-person.
I reject treating our unique selves and the unique, irreplaceable, precious people and things we love as mere types or identities.
I refuse to generalize and depersonalize in order to distribute the weight of intense, focused caring out into out speculative views-from-everywhere-at-once, better known as views-from-nowhere, but which I prefer to call views-from-anywhere-but-I.
I really, really hate it when people smile down at me from the heights of their wise serenity and assure me that Jesus or the Buddha or Marx or Science or Nature or any other gnostic vendor has washed away all their pain.
As if pain were the mark of insufficient wisdom.
Here is what I want to say to say back:
“If you hurt, please don’t pretend you don’t hurt — that you’ve shed the pain you still plainly carry.
And cut the phony bravado — you are afraid to hurt.
But we are all afraid, and perhaps we ought to be afraid — not because the world is scary and fear is the most intelligent response — but because fear is the honest and decent response of anyone who still loves.
Don’t add the suffering of shame to your pain and your dread of pain. Bear it bravely and honestly.”
Honesty — most of all subjective honesty — unenforceable, voluntary, undisprovable honesty — this is what matters most to me.
Shame is the enemy of subjective honesty.
When I pick up the scent of subjective dishonesty or subjective insensitivity so out of touch with itself that no longer even knows if it is lying or not (only whether a claim is defensible or not), I can no longer do much but feel a sad distance — a distance that only polite kindness can traverse, from one me to another, through a we-less vacuum. You need people, even yourself, to be easy come, easy go.
Maybe someday some miraculous epiphany will enter my soul and remove all my pain.
But I promise, I will never, ever pretend to be there until I am actually there.
I will be proud of my subjective honesty until I find something better to be proud of.
This is a crucial passage. I love this book.