Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Legitimate Strangeness..

The only injunction you need obey, as Rene Char said, is to develop your legitimate strangeness, the things that are peculiar just to you, the tangles of enjoyment that can’t be undone by rules or reason. When I fetch a glass of water I pour only an inch or so into the glass and leave the rest empty. I wait until I’ve drank the inch and then go back and pour another. This irritates people; or rather it did, in the past, when I lived with someone. But anyway, this is the kind of detail I am speaking about. The freedom to part-fill your glass, against all sense, against all prudence, to "waste time" doing such things. This is what I am talking about. For these stupid details, these stubborn details, are the sign language of your legitimate strangeness. They are, of course, ostensibly unremarkable things, irrational things, and yet without them you evaporate into everyone else, as of course most of us do, or else your legitimate strangeness is confined to a sort of allotment or shed where it becomes harmlessly eccentric, like a pet griffin, or like the huge tethered owl I saw recently at a fair, subdued and surrounded by a crowd of snapping cameras. I say there is nothing else but this strangeness, and there is a constant territorial battle, a continual war, by various social and religious machines to eliminate this strangeness, to colonize it, to replace it with the merely generic, to melt all pronouns into They, the anonymous They. Do not try and defend it before the court of reason, your strangeness, to someone armed with a questionnaire or a spreadsheet or a Mental Health Manual or a self-help book, a bureaucrat or marketeer, because your only defence can be to say "sorry, this is who I am", like the composer who, when he was asked to explain the meaning of a piece of his music, simply sat down and played it again. That’s what you have to do, you see: keep playing it again, your strange irrefutable music, again and again and again

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