Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Call it Self or Call it Soul
In Pessoa, the disquiet goes on and on. In Robinson, it is given a name, a context in literature, and a buoying calm: "lacrimae rerum, the tears in things." She is citing Virgil, the Aeneid, and reminding us that the ancients saw, knew, and intuited so much. Why do we ever reduce or dismiss them?
So I am still reading Pessoa, experiencing his tenderness alongside his sadness in Lisbon, but now I am feeling uplifted, comforted, and calmed by Robinson, who remains remarkably afloat on a sea of tears, even in the face of our potential destruction from the unintended consequences of our actions. Which the ancients took on, repeatedly, in literature. New threats: bacteria, nuclear fission; old source: human nature, hubris.
Laura Madeline Wiseman has continued to imagine him in poetry and in love. Beautiful photos there and here by Sebastien Tabuteaud.
I read a lot of science, and my husband is educating himself on quantum physics. This morning, I read to him from Robinson's books of essays:
I have a feeling Walt Whitman would have liked Marilynne Robinson, so "elegant and capable" a soul. She continues, later in the paragraph: "At this point of dynamic convergence, call it self or call it soul, questions of right and wrong are weighed, love is felt, guilt and loss are suffered. And, over time, formation occurs, for weal or woe, governed in large part by that unaccountable capacity for self-awareness."
That's self-awareness, not self-consciousness (in a negative sense), nor self-absorption. Self-awareness takes its place among other humans, being generously aware of them, too.
Pessoa felt his alienation. Whitman felt his connection, though one of a kind. Hmm.