Unreal Nature

March 28, 2013

Lose Your Balance

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:19 am

… Think of anxiety as good fortune, self-assurance as poverty.

This is from The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies by Michel Serres (2008, 1985):

… Let us design an interesting itinerary, one that leaves its optimal talweg and begins to explore a place: one which does not reach a foreseeable resolution, but searches; seems to wander; not deliberate or sure of itself, but rather anxious, off balance and relentless; questing, on the watch, it moves over the whole space, probes, checks things out, reconnoitres, beats about the bush, skips all over the place; few things in the space escape its sweep; whoever follows or invents this itinerary runs the risk of losing everything or inventing; if he makes discoveries, it will be said of his route that he has left the talweg to follow strange attractors.

If you happen upon a fertile method, forge straight ahead with it. It will be productive. You will soon have a notion of the sort of questions it resolves. Then stop because you are heading rapidly towards boredom, rigidity, old age and idiocy. To be sure, repetition and results, canonizing a place, give it the aura of what one knows: money, power, knowledge, things already accomplished. Dead, imitable, desirable. In the beginning, however, the wondrous idea promised life.

Leap sideways. Keep the recognizable method or methods in reserve, in case of illness, misery, fatigue; go rambling again. Explore space, a flying insect, a stag at bay, a stroller always chased off his habitual path by guard dogs growling around familiar places. Observe your own electroencephalogram jumping all over the place and sweeping across the page. … Think of anxiety as good fortune, self-assurance as poverty. Lose your balance, leave the beaten track, chase birds out of the hedges. Débrouillez-vous, muddle through, a perfect popular expression meaning literally to unscramble yourself. It supposes a tangled skein, a certain disorder and that vital confidence in the impromptu event that characterizes healthy innocents, lovers, aesthetes and the lonely.

This research regimen distinguishes us from machines and brings us close to what the body is capable of. It is the latter, more than the mind that separates us from artifice.

On Sundays method rests, rambling saves lives every day. If what you need is victory, everything in its place, battles, banks or institutions, go by way of the first. The other is there for time and intelligence, the well-being of thought, freedom, peace; the creation of unexpected places.

But take both paths, condemn neither; those who love the countryside sometimes need expressways.

[LOL at that last sentence.]

My most recent previous post from Serres’s book is here.

-Julie

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