Can we tell an alternative story of not being at home?

‘The one who masters walking leaves no footprints. / The one who masters speaking makes no slips of the tongue.’

Daodejing 27, trans. Wenlong Lu and Keith Wayne Brown

I believe one could write an alternative story of human embodiment, worldly engagement, and understanding that would not avail itself of a psychologist’s categories but would seek to describe someone’s not being at home in the world in thick ethico-aesthetic terms. On this understanding, one would not be diagnosed as ‘mentally ill’ but would reveal himself to himself and others as being unsurefooted or unsurehanded in his performances and deliveries. The poetic vocabulary that would come most in handy, in the story we would want to tell about another’s disorientation, would be thick concepts such as fumbling, awkwardness, flummoxing, stumbling, stuttering, floundering, and so on. And the practice we would would want to cultivate would be that of learning to master walking, speaking, and comporting. To be surefooted, able-tongued, and lighthearted when faced with surprises.

Advertisements