‘How’S That Again’?
While jetting along but not in the jet-set setting, I was racing through a paperback edition of modern memoirs, and I read the following:
“ ‘By the way, did you ever read Le Chant de Maldoror?’
“ ‘By Lautreamont?’ I said. ‘No, I haven’t read it. Wasn’t Lautreamont an early surrealist or something?’
“ ‘Oh, yes. Almost a century ago he was like the Hieronymus Bosch of the writing fraternity. He had a real nutsy streak, but was undoubtedly gifted, too.’ ”
And then, I continued on down the page until my subconscious caught up with my conscious. All those words which I had read with such satisfaction didn’t mean a single thing to me.
Coupled with the fact that I really didn’t know what the author was talking about (I can’t even translate Le Chant de Maldoror nor define surrealism) was the awareness that my mind acted as if I did understand. I had really entered into amiable conversation with these enlightened ones. “Oh, yes,” said I. “That Hieronymus Bosch had a real nutsy streak, but he was undoubtedly gifted too.” How had I been completely taken in by unreal, and for all I know untrue, but very clever talk? Worst is, I think I am surrounded by that kind of talk.
Have you heard any theological conversations recently—the existentialists and the relativists and their kin who darken counsel with words without knowledge? We can be sure of only one thing they tell us, and that is, we can be sure of no thing.
Language is a tool and an instrument, and some people will use it on us as a bludgeon or as a rapier or just frightfully for giving us a needle shot in one of our control centers.
I’m going now, and if I should return during my absence, keep me here till I get back.
The Cretan Frontier
I am convinced that ...1
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