Divestment

She doesn't glimmer in makeup or tint her hair. Her hair is the envy of hairdressers, who rarely snip through health. But even the hairdresser pushes the wares of the trade, dye it, dye it, they whisper, because this is a world run by appearance; even Epictetus tells us to play our parts well - whether we are poor, or a private person, we are to act the part, if not take it to heart.
Thus the unfavoured country may bow its head in shame over its image - and not take it to heart. Intellectuals overseas warn others not to go there - not out of dislike for such mytho-countries, but from their knowledge of what a tattered image can do to a person, or place.
But there is another space that is left open, that of Goethe's world literature, that of Heidegger's attraction to the Book of Tea. I imagine this space as a quiet, meditative place, also one of listening as much as of transmission. It also asks that subjects just be.
Goethe's project was never finished. It also got caught up in his own idiosyncrasies; he was not without contradiction and not always magnanimous in spirit, at once praising and temperamentally condemning countries for the same traits held by countries he only praised. I am being vague because I have noticed how mention of certain names causes otherwise composed people to become livid, or strangely emotional instead of logical. There is such a thing as geographical projection, once denoted by monsters. It would be far more accurate if our news was spelled out in those terms, though the language is not far off. In order to subjugate, one must vilify.
Sometimes, it seems like so much talking is going on - all about the wrong things. The focus is off, things of lesser value are touted as premium. Values shift, in the way that warm sea water is ambiguous and clammy. I saw a glimpse into an alternative today: how somebody's nothing can become another person's something, if we could learn to let go a little more, which includes letting go of the way we think things are. I feel sorry for people who take life literally.


It seems like culture just keeps piling up stuff, hiding the essential. I was going through my books this morning, and marvelling at the myriad volumes I got as presents just because books became inexpensive enough to stand as a form of gratuitous flattery.
My furniture designer friend, who I will link to when his site is up, is also concerned by these things, and quoted an essay about living well wherein this is taken to mean defining oneself through things, which must then be amassed, there to entertain guests, until these things no longer fit, and more space is needed and one is lost in that void. Old age brings the need to purge, and return to the essential. I have always been intrigued as to why it is that some wait until old age.
To divest oneself of things or ideas is to be open to new things and understandings. It is one of the platitudes of banal self-help that one is not to make assumptions, as causes anxiety and unnecessary speculation. This holds true for the world: physically, geographically.
The word divestment comes from vestire, meaning clothes, but came to mean possession. Clothes, after all, are our most necessary possession. While my designer friend claims one only really needs a mattress, I assume that clothes, eating utensils, and a roof must be givens in the equation. To which I would always add, whenever possible, plants and books. But books that serve the reader, not drawing them in to the web of clever intrigue also known as self-gratuity.
What is it that we really need? So many ideas are perhaps best divested, or at least viewed as ornate eccentricities. Imagine a hoarder of ideas: such ideas must be cheap, for surely one does not throw expensive objects into a dusty heap, but places them in a clearing. Reaching that clearing is an ongoing project.



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