I had this philosophy professor who taught philosophy of religion. I always had this impression that he preferred reading novels and poems to reading philosophy and teaching philosophy. I still remember how he spoke about the power of metaphors and how it breaks open new meaning. Also, how literature can in a few words describe what would take a philosopher a whole book.
This idea of the power of literature has always been with me; when a person transitions (I still am), you talk to so many people about your personal narrative (-s). To some extend when one transitions, one goes on a hermeneutical journey. You make sense of experiences that have been, of colors, of tastes, of textures, of intimate moments. In many cases, you know how it feels, but you can’t necessarily describe it, you can’t recount it. Art, music and literature are however powerful mediums whereby one can bridge this chasm.
Lately, I have been imagining the scenario where one would go to a psychologist or therapist with a piece of literature (among other things), and read it together, while also talking about one’s own personal narrative.
I have encountered two books, that have been extremely meaningful to me lately: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy and The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur. I want to quote three parts or sections from these two books. What you make of it, is up to you. But for me they are special, and carry so much meaning. Also, the way the story (-s) are told in the Ministry of Utmost Happiness are important to me. For me it resembles in a certain sense how memories, narratives and stories “move”.
Memories of War…
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, p. 23 – 24:
“But for us the price-rise and school-admissions and beating-husbands and cheating-wives are all inside us. The riot is inside us. The war is inside us. Indo-Pak is inside us. It will never settle down. It can’t.”
“His body had suddenly begun to wage war on him. He grew tall and muscular. And hairy. In a panic he tried to remove the hair on his face and body with Burnol – burn ointment that made dark patches on his skin.”
Beginnings of love…
The Sun and Her Flowers, p 65:
did you leave a door
open between my legs
were you lazy
did you forget
or did you purposely leave me unfinished
– conversations with god.
The Sun and Her Flowers, p 59:
I notice everything i do not have
and decide it is beautiful
For now, I will leave it here. But there is some truth in the practice to tell someone to read, to watch, to listen to a song, to make them try to understand. I remember that I asked my ex-partner to watch Laurence Anyways, to try to help her to understand what I am going through and what could be lying ahead for us.