May 12, 2012

Passage from 'Le nez qui voque' by Réjean Ducharme


But yesterday, before falling asleep, I had some serious thoughts about ideas, or (take your pick) some serious ideas about thoughts. Here they are. An idea is not as immobile, powerless, and docile as you think; it acts, engenders, and arranges; it shapes and comprises its own dynamism; it runs, and runs all by itself. Furthermore, at the moment of its conception, the idea splits in two; that is, as soon as it is born, it works toward its own materialization and toward the materialization of the opposite idea. It tends simultaneously toward both poles, and, if we do not judge it, do not stop it, it carries us along in both directions. But in the case of most civilized beings, there operates automatically upon their awareness of the idea, a choice, a violent revolt against one or the other of these two impulses that it gives rise to: they think it's crazy to devote yourself simultaneously to the north and the south, to the right and the left, to slowness and swiftness. In others, of a younger, purer, less sclerotic intellect, the possibility of a double action in opposite directions is perfectly clear, perceptible, logical, and understood. Why, in addition to moving and being moved in its own direction, is the idea moving and being moved in the opposite direction? Because it is the nature of the soul, an avidly creative will, to represent spontaneously for itself in the form of ideas all the possibilities that an object offers to its action, and to want to accomplish all of them by this very fact. The soul cannot not want what it imagines: there is no such thing as unwill. When you don't want to, all you're doing is not doing what you want to do. This explanation doesn't elucidate anything. For example, I simultaneously feel both the need to see Chateaugué and the need to tell her to go hang herself somewhere else. But those are things that are too subtle for civilized beings. You'll understand, perhaps, if I say that you feel, under the influence of two simultaneous impulses born of the very same idea, both the need to do good and the need to do evil. My thoughts are so serious and subtle! He's so afraid of not being understood and appreciated! Enough! It's September 14.

- Miss Take (Le nez qui voque) by Réjean Ducharme (translated by Will Browning)


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