Department of “Whatever”

by on January 20, 2008 at 4:41 am in Books | Permalink

Suffering the gloom, inevitable as breath, we must further accept
this fact that the world hates: We are forever incomplete, fragments of
some ungraspable whole. Our unfinished natures – we are never pure
actualities but always vague potentials – make life a constant
struggle, a bout with the persistent unknown. But this extension into
the abyss is also our salvation. To be only a fragment is always to
strive for something beyond ourselves, something transcendent. That
striving is always an act of freedom, of choosing one road instead of
another. Though this labor is arduous – it requires constant attention
to our mysterious and shifting interiors – it is also ecstatic, an
almost infinite sounding of the exquisite riddles of Being.

To be against happiness is to embrace ecstasy. Incompleteness is a
call to life. Fragmentation is freedom. The exhilaration of never
knowing anything fully is that you can perpetually imagine sublimities
beyond reason. On the margins of the known is the agile edge of
existence. This is the rapture, burning slow, of finishing a book that
can never be completed, a flawed and conflicted text, vexed as twilight.

Eric G. Wilson is a professor of English at Wake Forest University. This essay is adapted from his book Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy, being published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Here is the link.

1 Student January 20, 2008 at 5:00 am

Oh.
Em.
Gee,

That has to be the biggest gob of mess I’ve ever read.

2 Billare January 20, 2008 at 5:55 am

Speaking as a naive college student, these sort of “analyses” are why I disdain academic literature and criticism.

3 efp January 20, 2008 at 10:31 am

How about: Department of Wanking. I want those 20 seconds of my life back.

If this were an undergraduate essay, I would say the writer shows some promise, but needs to stop trying so hard. “…an almost infinite sounding of the exquisite riddles of Being” Sounds like it came out of google translate.

4 efp January 20, 2008 at 10:36 am

Actually, it’s a much better read after translating to Japanese and back:

Suffering in the shadows of the breath as inevitable, we, we must accept the fact that the world hates more: We are forever incomplete, some fragment of the whole ungraspable. Our unfinished nature – we are, but the reality is not always vague pure potential – to a life of constant struggle, sustained and win the war against the unknown. However, in an abyss, this extension of our salvation. Only a fragment is always something beyond one’s own efforts, something transcendental. The effort is always free to act on the road instead, choose another one. This is despite arduous labor – our mystical and it is necessary to pay attention to the constant shifts interior – is ecstatic, almost infinite mysteriesつくり上げたexquisite sound.

Happy to accept opposed to the ecstasy. Incompleteness of life is a call. Fragmentation is free. The elation is never complete, you can learn anything beyond imagination sublimities reason incessantly. Margin on the edge of agile presence known. This is the rapture, and the slow burning of a book to finish and never completed, the text of a flawed and conflicted, as twilight vexed.

5 Anonymous January 20, 2008 at 12:36 pm

It works as a kind of prose poetry. I found myself nodding my head in approval. Think of the lyrics to Hotel California or All Along the Watchtower or Stairway to Heaven. Just sit back and enjoy the words and the thoughts and feelings they invoke, and don’t fuss too much with sentence-by-sentence analysis. It’s not necessary for every piece of writing in the English language to put forth some crisply expressed testable hypothesis or policy statement.

6 The Owner's Manual January 20, 2008 at 2:03 pm
7 Reginald January 20, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Good riddance to melancholy!

Brian Tracy said it best in his book Maximum Achievement:
“The insight that changed my life was the discovery that negative emotions are completely unnecessary and unnatural in the life of man. There is no need for them. They serve no good purpose. They are only destructive. They are the major reason men and women fail to grow and evolve to higher levels of consciousness and character. And you do not have to suffer them at all if you consciously choose to get rid of them.”

8 Woot! January 20, 2008 at 7:03 pm

Melancholy “poetry” always attracts easy women. Which is good news for this guy, ’cause if he is serious then he should get laid.

9 Mike Fladlien January 20, 2008 at 10:02 pm

call me shallow, but isn’t the writer just saying that the journey and not the destination is the source of happiness? this has got to be the best thread i’ve ever read.

10 GreatZamfir January 21, 2008 at 6:29 am

I guess that when translated to economics, this piece says that it is better, for yourself, to work for your money than get it as welfare.

11 dofus gold January 2, 2009 at 1:17 am

We can give you the best dofus gold and best service.

12 candy May 15, 2009 at 10:46 pm

It is enlightening!

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