“You don’t know what you think until you speak.”
Which is why I blog. And then there are the extempore comments scattered across cyberspace, wanton and unremembered: pigeons loosed but never coming home to roost for they are not of the homing variety. Or they are seeds broadcast, which engender new life in many a foreign field.
If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England
Anyhow, it was in such a comment, or an email to a dear faithful friend, linked and sealed via blogging, that I stumbled on a thought. “This is about miracles, not miseries; magic not mud; angelic sparkles and phosphorescence, not mere stuff”.
Then sometimes you know what you think without getting the opportunity to say it, perhaps without ever finding good enough words to wrap around it. Yet still an imprint is retained on the wrapping you hastily put on the gift you so bounteously received, that you and desire to pass on, as intact as possible. There are times, for example lying still under a delicious quilt at three in the morning, not sure if one is awake—when the harvesting of that fruit would break the spell, so the inspirations must perforce flow back to their source till another time. I think it was in one of those sessions the other night, or it might have been whilst walking the mean streets near my house (they’ve seemed mean lately) that I caught the tail of a thought before it slipped my grasp and fled. Now I recall it: striding past some premises with large windows, translucent but not transparent, the kind that it’s handy to catch a glance at yourself in, if you want to check your hair, or in my case if you suspect you are walking with one shoulder higher, something I’ve been accused of since standing to attention on parade as a cadet aged thirteen. When I glanced the other day, I saw the same person that I have known ever since I stopped growing. “For then I saw as through a glass, darkly; but now, face to face.”
That was the moment I became aware of a particular miracle, that I am still the “me” that I’ve always been, as far back as I can remember. I remember posing for a studio portrait in the summer of ’45: it has the date pencilled on the back of the photo. Proving that I was three. Not that external looks have anything much to do with it. They change radically, laughably, perhaps weepably. The persistence of me is the experience of being myself, from the inside.
“The personal is the universal”. That’s a thought which popped out in another discussion. Someone said it, then I seized on the thought. If I can get personal enough, rinsing out the circumstantial colour of my own idiosyncrasy till my native existential form is revealed, then I shall have contributed to universal understanding by a tiny amount.
“I am still me.” If this were understood truly, then our institutions would subtly change: our education systems, courts, punishments. I have just started reading Crime and Punishment. This is from the Introduction:
Above all, the portrayal of Raskolnikov’s character concerns the theme and problem of personality. What is under threat from … [various -isms] is the image of the human self, and its potential for change and transformation.
You may call it a paradox, I call it one of those miracles from which the fabric of space-time is woven. The possibility of transformation sits on the base reality of “I am still me”.
And at this moment I am unable to make it clearer than that.