the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

Gluck on fear, loss, tone

Posted by rigorousm on November 12, 2014

The most likely transformation of loss is into task or test. This conversion introduces the idea of gain, if not reward; it fortifies the animal commitment to staying alive by promising to respond to the human need for purpose. …

Great value is placed here on endurance. And endurance is not required in the absence of pain. … In the presence of lessons, the possibility of mastery can displace the animal plea for alleviation.

… To have fears … is to be immersed in acute sensation. The fear that one will cease is unlike the state of chronic fearfulness we call timidity. This fear halts and overtakes, it carries intimations of change or closure or collapse, it threatens to cancel the future. It is primal, unwilled, democratic, urgent; in its presence, all other function is suspended.

… In terms of tone, the impression of mastery and the impression of abandon cannot co-exist. Our present addiction to sincerity grows out of a preference for abandon, for the subjective “I” whose impassioned partiality carries the implication of flaw, whose speech sounds individual and human and fallible. The elements of coldness…, the insufficient “anxiety about humanity” correspond to the overt projection of mastery.

— Louise Gluck, “Against Sincerity,” Proofs & Theories, p 40-41.

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