Saturday, October 20, 2007

FROM DORIS LESSING'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY "UNDER MY SKIN"

It is, I have observed, a rule that people who have been on the periphery of events or a life are those that rush forward to claim first place: people who do know often say nothing or little. Some of the most noisy, not to say noisome, scandals or affairs of our time, that have had a searchlight on them for years, are reflected wrongly of the public mind because the actual participants keep their counsel, and watch, ironically, from the shadows. And there is another thing, much harder to see. People who have been real movers and exciters get left out of histories, and it is because memory itself decides to reject them. These instigators are flamboyant, unscrupulous, hysterical, or even mad, certainly abrasive; but the real point is that they are apparently of a different substance from the smooth, reasonable and sane people who have been inspired by them, and who do not like to remember temporary submersions in lunacy. Often, reading histories, there are events which stick out, do not make enough sense, and one may deduce the existence of some lunatic, male or female, who was equipped with the fiery stuff of inspiration-but was quickly forgotten, since always and at all times the past gets tidied up and made safer.

11 Comments:

Blogger sanghamitra said...

yes, there are people who watch wrapped in silence how far things can go-- often masking wounds in silence & there are ppl who jump in for the limelight or as it it-- for the periphery, center-- just any place would do.... WHY SO?!!
may be this is the 'human' way of implementing the 'use & abuse' concept-- unconsciously made popular. though needless to point out that 'use & throw' in its earlier form was only what one connected with a harmless pen :-D
they say life changes--- but then what about principles--- they mutate perhaps.
would definitely like to share my experience with the book "Voices from the Summit".

4:58 AM  
Blogger The Lambent Wit said...

While Lessing's autobiography volume one is rumored to be realistic, I wonder why she also seemed loyal to communism--an unrealistic Utopian historicist farce that turned out to be quite inhumane in practice? Anyway, her sweeping generalizations in the excerpt seem more logically fallacious than realistic. For instance, how did she define 'periphery of events of life'? If indeed the real movers and exciters were left out of histories how did Doris come to not only know about them, but also to accord them such labels? Her 'temporary submersion in lunacy' flashes flamboyant, but without scope definition, the conclusion seems hardly substantive. Unless we presume she is the voice of reason, her analysis of 'events' that 'do not make enough sense' is but a personal opinion, which left unclarified the scope of 'enough sense'. Last but not least, she said the past 'gets tidied up and safer' 'always' and 'at all times'. I take issue with such a sweeping generalization, which confirms her time in history far more than thunders a timeless fact! For instance, how about the book 'God Is Not Great,' by Christopher Hitchens? One can well argue it is about as opposite from Doris' sweeping comment as it gets. At least in the excerpt, Doris' grandiose emotional tapestry of words seem short on logic and oxymoronic, too. Perhaps it would be best to read her volume one as a literary excursion, rather than a tome frothing with timeless wisdom.

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