Indirection
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33 Indirection What is closer to me than myself? Nothing. Yet, how does one say this? How to express this closeness as closeness, i.e., closely? It is enormously difficult, as when Heidegger says that what is closest to me in everyday life is furthest from being understood, where he quotes Augustine saying that I have become to myself a terra difficultatis, a land of toil where I labour and sweat. It seems to me that the only way of expressing the closeness of self to itself is indirectly , through other voices and personae, Pessoa’s heteronyms. These heteronyms are the names of strangers, they are ways of estranging the self so as to approach it, to approximate it, in closeness. This closeness to self and to world and of self to world is so close that one cannot separate them, divide and sunder them. Self and world are of a piece. They are one piece of a garment that should not be broken down into pieces like mind and reality or subject and 34 object. They are the one piece of which I am made and which I have made. The world is what you make of it. That is to say, self and world are a fiction, a fiction that we take to be true and in which we have faith. The difficulty is making that faith explicit. (A group of wealthy, noisy, pink English tourists are sitting behind me at the beach restaurant as I write. Endless chattering is interspersed with vulgar, horselike embarrassed laughter. ‘Why don’t these fuckers just die?’, I think to myself. Their behaviour is like some grotesque act to me, as sphincter-tightening as Joyce’s Irish Sea, which is where I would like to drown them. People tight as a drum with no sense of rhythm.) To return to indirection: all one can try and do in a book is to tell the truth. One can only do this in a fiction, by putting on a mask, by naming oneself with a heteronym. If truth is a fiction, or truth has to be related in a fiction because it cannot be articulated directly, then this raises the question: is there a supreme fiction, a fiction in which we could believe , where it is a question of final faith in final fact? Wallace Stevens insists that ‘it is possible, possible, possible. It must be possible’, where it is at the very least unclear whether the repetition of the word ‘possible’ is a symptom of strength or weakness. It 35 is telling that a poet of the supreme caliber of Stevens only felt that he could write ‘Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction’. ...


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