The most apparently ordinary occurrences can make us shudder and fill us with dread or awe. When asked about his weekend, a man replies that he had taken mushrooms and discovered the plentitude of becoming. A woman doesn’t know why she feels her home is uncanny to her, treating it like a train depot, yet uncanny it remains. A man hasn’t confronted the truth that his father died some 20 years ago and will never return. Out of the blue, a man senses for the first time the force of the question, “Why am I here?,” and has no answer. The absence of a person may, in the early morning, stir in me the gravity of lonesomeness, the taint of death.
Seen from this perspective, the triviality of modern culture is only a veneer pathetically and inadequately hiding from us what could come, at any moment, into plain sight: the truth that we bear within ourselves an inscrutability, a hint of the dangerous, a palpating sense of our quickened existences. Everyday words, buzzing thoughts, and a whir of action jolt us onward, careen us into the future like machines bent on constant motion, but a mere moment’s interruption can tear through all this. A fugitive emotion out of proportion with a current happening may slice into us from nowhere, ripping us and tearing at us, gorging on us. When we feel nagged by something, gnawed at, what would happen were we to peer into that nagging sensation until it took up residence in us? Our words, those great betrayers and steady liars, can unwind like cassette tape, pitching us into silence.
I have found that the philosophical question can be like a sword cutting through all this obfuscation and bluster, revealing hard bones and sinewy, tender flesh, thus delivering up our mysterious selves to ourselves. Pierced, split open, we are born.