Grieving philosopher, ambiguous being!

Grieving philosopher, ambiguous being!  A philosopher must be wary and untrusting, must find suspect and questionable even something as basic that comes from him as his grief.  Tears, those unarguable and undeniable flows and streaks from our eyes and soaking our clothes or the pages of a letter we are writing, must, even if they do not stop their streaming, be considered as just another phenomenon, and possibly just another mistake.  What could be the mistake in crying, when grief sets in?  What could be the mistake in grief itself?  Anyone else may continue crying as long as he feels sad, and need not ask himself these or any such questions.  But for the philosopher, for whom everything comes as a question, even the most unquestioned, the most brutal and obvious, the tears just might be the most effective way to ask the most far-reaching, far-digging questions, questions that get to the heart of things, if only he has heart for them.  Might not the world be joyous after all, and not fit for tears and grief of any kind?  Or is it that tears, grief, the height of lamentation, gnashing of teeth and cursing and those other weighty things that weigh us down and low, are somehow mixed with this joy that the philosopher finds, through his unceasing investigations, at the heart of things?  Also, the philosopher needs to inquire into himself as to his place within the scheme of social encounters, ask himself whether and how he is a teacher to those around him, or what and whether he learns from them; he needs to be sure if maybe those around him are getting the wrong idea when he cries, maybe it wouldn’t be better to approach even the most calamitous and heart-wrenching, the sudden loss of a friend or a child or a relative, the actual sight of another dying or missing out on this sight and the possibility, one last time, of giving the friend his company, although he is dying in the building beside the building where he works, it is a stupid thing to shirk taking the forty steps to the deathbed, the slow or sudden death of a companion species, his dog hit by a car or drowned in the ocean, trying to swim and find his human partner on the island two miles off the shore, the insanity and as it were inhuman discouragement of things all around, the milieu and the age, the lack of discourse of the constant talking at cross-purposes, the bearing of crosses for whatever insane reason or the burning of churches, monasteries and mosques and temples through whatever mad bitterness and bias, approach whatever might move him to feel the sting in the ducts of his eyes, to cast himself down awhile, to join the lowest things and lives for a while, tossing dirt over the head, with the serenity, stillness and confidence of a Stoic, to approach it stoically, seemingly indifferently or actually so and as though from another planet, another galaxy where beings shaped much like the human being do not have human concerns or experience human travesties.  Or would the stronger, better lesson be to laugh, and laugh always, in their faces, the mourners all around, and in his heart, however cold, approaching dumbness, the laughter may seem?  Laugh on and on and on, even when the world itself is brought to tears and becomes itself one large, hurdling tear through space?  And there’s always the question, ever on his person, he can’t let go and dispose of it, of being itself, that maximum question trying to face That there is Being or That Being gives.  It is a question not about how much happiness or sadness there is in the world, how much joy and dread, how much bitterness and gratitude, but about none of these, no thing in particular but Being and to be smacked in the face, or punched in the gut or somewhere soft and vulnerable, or even in the hard head so long as it cracks a little, hit by Being or that there is anything.  Sometimes, when by all accounts we should be crying–our friends look to us with the dismay of propriety, ridicule us and are in the depths frightened of us, and whatever it is we see–we are smacked in the face by the thought that there is anything, and we sit there, and we stare, we stare at you or the corpse or the sky, or into ourselves, and there is nothing to say.  If we come to care again, it will necessarily be after this, not carelessness as though from stoic indifference, shock, when the mouth is closed and remains closed, or the mouth is open an inch and remains open.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s