Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Gripping or feeling? (Quote of the month)

This one's an old classic - the final line of Baudelaire's The Stranger:
- Well then! What do you love, unfathomable stranger? 
- I love the clouds… the passing clouds … up there … up there … the marvelous clouds!
I recalled these lines this morning as I went to work. Or rather: I thought of the balance between grasping and letting go. I thought of the ambivalence of the hand, which is both sensory organ and grapple. Imagine a man, a sensitive person who wishes in secret for his hands to be transformed into feelers. A man who wishes that he could spend his life without ever having to grasp or hold on to anything. Would such a man be possible? The wish, at any rate, would be possible. It's there in Baudelaire's "stranger". In the flâneur, content to move through the swarming city that abounds in dreams, savouring the spectacle of things he will never be part of. This man never clutches. He never grabs hold of things. He lacks the desire to possess, and he never says: "this belongs to my life, without it I cannot live!". It's easy to despise such a man, I suppose, but at the same time there's something angelic about him.

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