Archivo de la categoría: Ensayo

Nobody Knows My Name de James Baldwin

I.

One can only face in others what one can face in oneself. On this confrontation depends the measure of our wisdom and compassion. This energy is all that one finds in the rubble of vanished civilisations, and the only hope for ours.

II.

It is the writer, not the statesman, who is our strongest arm. Though we do not wholly believe it yet, the interior life is a real life, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world.

III.

Human freedom is a complex, difficult – and private – thing. If we can liken life, for a moment, to a furnace, then freedom is the fire which burns away illusion. And honest examination of the national life proves how far we are from the standard of human freedom with which we began. The recovery of this standard demands of everyone who loves this country a hard look at himself, for the greatest achievements must begin somewhere, and they always begin with the person. If we are not capable of this examination, we may yet become one of the most distinguished and monumental failures in the history of nations.

IV.

“Can I do anything for you?” he persisted; and when I did not answer, being both touched and irritated by his question, he smiled and said, “You haven´t to be shy. I know what it is like to be ill and alone in a strange city.”
It was a hideously, an inevitably self-concious gesture and yet it touched and disarmed me. I know that his concern, at bottom, had very little to do with me. It had to do with his memories of himself and it expressed his determination never to be guilty of the world´s indifference.

V.

The people who are in one´s life or merely continually in one´s presence reveal a great deal about one´s needs and terrors. Also, one´s hopes.

VI.

The world had prepared no place for you, and if the world had its way, no place would ever exist. (…) This is not the way this truth presents itself to white men, who believe the world is theirs and who, albeit unconsciously, expect the world to help them in the achievement of their identity. But the world does not do this – for anyone; the world is not interested in anyone´s identity. And, therefore, the anguish which can overtake a white man comes in the middle of his life, when he must take the almost inconceivable effort to divest himself of everything he has ever expected or believed, when he must take himself apart and put himself together again, walking out of the world, into limbo, or into what certainly looks like limbo.

Hope in the Dark de Rebecca Solnit

I.

Your opponents would love you to believe that it´s hopeless, that you have no power, that there´s no reason to act, that you can´t win. Hope is a gift you don´t have to surrender, a power you don´t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn´t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.

II.

I believe in hope as an act of defiance, or rather as the foundation for an ongoing series of acts of defiance, those acts necessary to bring about some of what we hope for while we live by principle in the meantime. There is no alternative, except surrender. And surrender not only abandons the future, it abandons the soul.

El arte de amar de Erich Fromm

Quien no conoce nada, no ama nada. Quien no puede hacer nada, no comprende nada. Quien nada comprende, nada vale. Pero quien comprende también ama, observa, ve… Cuanto mayor es el conocimiento inherente a una cosa, más grande es el amor… Quien cree que todas las frutas maduran al mismo tiempo que las fresas nada sabe acerca de las uvas.
Paracelso.

I.

Para el carácter productivo, dar posee un significado totalmente distinto: constituye la más alta expresión de potencia. En el acto mismo de dar, experimento mi fuerza, mi riqueza, mi poder. Tal experiencia de vitalidad y potencia exaltadas me llena de dicha. Me experimento a mí mismo como desbordante, pródigo, vivo y, por tanto, dichoso. Dar produce más felicidad que recibir, no porque sea una privación, sino porque en el acto de dar está la expresión de mi vitalidad.

II.

¿Qué le da una persona a otra? Da de sí misma, de los más precioso que tiene, de su propia vida. Ello no significa necesariamente que sacrifica su vida por la otra, sino que da lo que está vivo en él -da de su alegría, de su interés, de su comprensión, de su conocimiento, de su humor, de su tristeza-, de todas las expresiones y manifestaciones de lo que está vivo en él. Al dar así de su vida, enriquece a la otra persona, realza el sentimiento de vida de la otra al exaltar el suyo propio.

III.

El individuo egoísta no se ama demasiado, sino muy poco; en realidad, se odia. Tal falta de cariño y cuidado por sí mismo, que no es sino la expresión de su falta de productividad, lo deja vacío y frustrado. Se siente necesariamente infeliz y ansiosamente preocupado por arrancar a la vida las satisfacciones que él se impide obtener.

IV.

El hombre moderno se ha transformado en un artículo; experimenta su energía vital como una inversión de la que debe obtener el máximo beneficio, teniendo en cuenta su posición y la situación del mercado de la personalidad. Está enajenado de sí mismo, de sus semejantes y de la naturaleza. Su finalidad principal es el intercambio ventajoso de sus aptitudes, su conocimiento y de sí mismo, de su “bagaje de personalidad” con otros individuos igualmente ansiosos de lograr un intercambio conveniente y equitativo. La vida carece de finalidad, salvo de la de seguir adelante, de principios, excepto el del intercambio equitativo, de satisfacción, excepto la de consumir.

V.

La capacidad de amar depende de la propia capacidad para superar el narcisismo y la fijación incestuosa a la madre y al clan; depende de nuestra capacidad de crecer, de desarrollar una orientación productiva en nuestra relación con el mundo y con nosotros mismos. Tal proceso de emergencia, de nacimiento, de despertar, necesita de una cualidad como condición necesaria: fe.

VI.

Tener fe requiere coraje, la capacidad de correr un riesgo, la disposición a aceptar incluso el dolor y la desilusión. Quien insiste en la seguridad y la tranquilidad como condiciones primarias de la vida no puede tener fe; quien se encierra en un sistema de defensa, donde la distancia y la posesión constituyen los medios que dan seguridad, se convierte en un prisionero. Ser amado, y amar, requiere coraje, la valentía de atribuir a ciertos valores fundamental importancia, y de dar el salto y apostar todo a esos valores.

The Wisdom of Insecurity de Alan W. Watts

I.

To the degree, then, that life is found good, death must be proportionately evil. The more we are able to love another person and to enjoy his company, the greatest must be our grief at this death, or in separation. The further the power of consciousness ventures out into experience, the more is the price it must pay for its knowledge. It is understandable that we should sometimes ask whether life has not gone too far in this direction, whether “the game is worth the candle,” and whether it might not be better to turn the course of evolution in the only other possible direction -backwards, to the relative peace of the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral.

II.

After all this, the brain deserves a word for itself! For the brain, including its reasoning and calculating centers, is a part and product of the body. It is as natural as the heart and stomach, and, rightly used, is anything but an enemy of man. But to be used rightly it must be put in its place, for the brain is made for man, not man for his brain. In other words, the function of the brain is to serve the present and the real, not to send man chasing wildly after the phantom of the future.

III.

You want to be happy, to forget yourself, and yet the more you try to forget yourself, the you remember the self you want to forget. You want to escape from pain, but the more you struggle to escape, the more you inflame the agony. You are afraid and want to be brave, but the effort to be brave is fear trying to run away from itself. You want peace of mind, but the attempt to pacify it is like trying to calm the waves with a flat-iron.

IV.

But very obvious things are often overlooked. If a feeling is not present, you are not aware of it. There is no experience but present experience. What you know, what you are actually aware of, is just what is happening at this moment, and no more.

V.

The real reason why human life can be so utterly exasperating and frustrating is not because there are facts called death, pain, fear or hunger. The madness of the thing is that when such facts are present, we circle, buzz, writhe, and whirl, trying to get the “I” out of the experience. We pretend that we are amoebas, and try to protect ourselves from life by splitting in two. Sanity, wholeness, and integration lie in the realization that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate “I” or mind can be found.

VI.

If, on the other hand, you are aware of fear, you realize that, because this feeling is now yourself, escape is impossible. You see that calling it “fear” tells you little or nothing about it, for the comparison and the naming is based, not on past experience, but on memory. You have then no choice but to be aware of it with your whole being as an entirely new experience. Indeed, every experience is in this sense new, and at every moment of our lives we are in the midst of the new and the unknown. At this point you receive the experience without resisting it or naming it, and the whole sense of conflict between “I” and the present reality vanishes.

VII.

To remain stable is to refrain from trying to separate yourself from a pain because you know that you cannot. Running away from fear is fear, fighting pain is pain, trying to be brave is being scared. If the mind is in pain, the mind is pain. The thinker has no other form than his thought. There is no escape. But so long as you are not aware of the inseparability of thinker and thought, you will try to escape.
From this follows, quite naturally, absorption. It is no effort; the mind does it by itself.

VIII.

Discovering this the mind becomes whole: the split between I and me, man and the world, the ideal and the real, comes to an end. Paranoia, the mind beside itself, becomes metanoia, the mind with itself and so free from itself. Free from clutching at themselves the hands can handle; free from looking after themselves the eyes can see; free from trying to understand itself thought can think. In such feeling, seeing, and thinking life requires no future to complete itself nor explanation to justify itself. In this moment it is finished.

The Lonely City de Olivia Laing

I.

If you´re lonely this one´s for you.

II.

What does it feel like to be lonely? It feels like being hungry: like being hungry when everyone around you is readying for a feast. It feels shameful and alarming, and over time these feelings radiate outwards, making the lonely person increasingly isolated, increasingly estranged. It hurts, in the way that feelings do, and it also has physical consequences that take place invisibly, inside the closed compartments of the body.

III.

If I could have put what I was feeling into words, the words would have been an infant wail´s: I don´t want to be alone. I want someone to want me. I´m lonely. I´m scared. I need to be loved, to be touched, to be held.

IV.

If they had earlier been lonely, they now have no access to the self that experienced the loneliness; furthermore, they very likely prefer that things remain that way. In consequence they are likely to respond to those who are currently lonely with absence of understanding and perhaps irritation*.
*Robert Weiss, Loneliness: The Experience of Emotional and Social Isolation.

V.

Loneliness profoundly affects an individual´s ability to understand and interpret social interactions, initiating a devastating chain-reaction, the consequence of which is to further estrange them from their fellows.
When people enter into an experience of loneliness, they trigger what psychologists call hypervigilance for social threat (…). In this state, which is entered into unknowingly, the individual tends to experience the world in increasingly negative terms, and to both expect and remember instances of rudeness, rejection and abrasion, giving them greater weight and prominence than other, more benign or friendly interactions. This creates, of course, a vicious circle, in which the lonely person grows increasingly more isolated, suspicious and withdrawn.

VI.

If you are not being touched at all, then speech is the closest contact it is possible to have with another human being (…). The irony is that when you are engaged in larger and more satisfactory intimacies, these quotidian exchanges go off smoothly, almost unnoticed, unperceived. It is only when there is a paucity of deeper and more personal connection that they develop a disproportionate importance, and with it a disproportionate risk.

VII.

That loneliness can derive from the conviction that there is no person or group to which one belongs. This not belonging can be seen to have a much deeper meaning. However much integration proceeds, it cannot do away with the feeling that certain components of the self are not available because they are split off and cannot be regained. Some of these split-off parts… are projected into other people, contributing to the feeling that one is not in full possession of one´s self, that one does not fully belong to oneself or, therefore, to anybody else. The lost parts too, are felt to be lonely.
Melanie Klein

VIII.

 The way I recovered a sense of wholeness was not by meeting someone or falling in love, but rather by handling the things that other people had made, slowly absorbing by way of this contact the fact that loneliness, longing, does not mean one has failed, but simply that one is alive.

IX.

Loneliness is collective; it is a city. As to how to inhabit it, there are no rules and nor is there any need to feel shame, only to remember that the pursuit of individual happiness does not trump or excuse our obligations to each another. We are in this together, this accumulation of scars, this world of objects, this physical and temporary heaven that so often takes on the countenance of hell. What matters is kindness; what matters is solidarity. What matters is staying alert, staying open, because if we know anything from what has gone before us, it is that the time for feeling will not last.

Ante todo no hagas daño de Henry Marsh

La vida sin esperanza es tremendamente difícil, pero con cuánta facilidad consigue la esperanza, en definitiva, volvernos necios a todos.

El club de lectura del final de tu vida de Will Schwalbe

El club de lectura del final de tu vidaMi madre me enseñó a no apartar la mirada de lo peor, pero a creer que todos podemos hacerlo mejor. Nunca flaqueó su convicción de que los libros son la herramienta más poderosa en el arsenal humano, que leer toda suerte de libros, en el formato que uno elija (…) es el mejor entretenimiento, y también es la manera en que uno toma parte en la conversación de la humanidad. Mi madre me enseñó que se pueden cambiar las cosas en este mundo y que los libros tienen importancia: son la manera de averiguar lo que tenemos que hacer en esta vida, y el modo de decírselo a los demás. Mi madre también me enseñó, en el transcurso de dos años, docenas de libros y cientos de horas en hospitales, que los libros pueden ser el modo de intimar, y de seguir cerca, incluso en el caso de una madre y un hijo que ya estaban muy cerca de entrada, y siguen estándolo incluso después de la muerte de uno de ellos.

Trece libros del club de lectura de Will Schwalbe y de su madre Mary Ann(e) pasarán a formar parte del mío. No sé cuántos se salvarán pero siempre estarán ligados en mi recuerdo a la mujer de la sonrisa preciosa y las convicciones firmes. Gracias, Mary Ann(e).