I’ve always been suspicious. I don’t even look into my face. I shaved this morning, and I look at my cheeks so that I don’t cut myself, but I don’t even want to know the color of my eyes. I think psychology and self-reflection is one of the major catastrophes of the twentieth century. A major, major mistake. And it’s only one of the mistakes of the twentieth century, which makes me think that the twentieth century in its entirety was a mistake.
The stars are like letters which inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky. Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other; as has been said: “Everything breathes together.
We go out from the known to the unknown, we advance from light into darkness. We do not simply proceed from the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge, but we go forward from the light of partial knowledge into a greater knowledge which is so much more profound that it can only be described as the ‘darkness of unknowing.’ Like Socrates we begin to realize how little we understand. We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery.
Can there simply be stillness without knowing? This stillness, this pure awareness, with its wisdom and compassion - is this the manifestation of God from moment to moment? Who knows? Where does the question itself come from? The word, the name, is not what is. What is is without self. It is unknowable, unthinkable, indivisible. Why attach a name to what is?
I’d wish the reader, in the course of falling into one of my stories, to grow more and more estranged from the familiar, until by the end of the story he or she, if only for a moment, sees the world as a mysterious and surprising place. After all, our nervous systems are arranged for practical ends—we see what’s immediately useful to us and ignore the rest. In this sense, art is a method of destruction. It turns our attention away from the useful, it allows us to see things usually obscured by habit—it invites us to witness the thrilling strangeness of the world.
R.E.M. | “Country Feedback,” from Out of Time, 1991. Thanks for 31 years of brilliance.