facing the darkness of ignorance with aplomb

I’m reading To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I read the novel years ago without understanding. I know that for certain because I’m reading it now with little to modest comprehension. It’s a great enjoyable challenging read, moving obliquely, as it does, from tangles woolfof sensations to things, moving from the swirl of feelings and musings and reveries to objects like books, trees, oceans, children, windows, and so on. It’s a profound novel. I sense how profound it is, I sense it when I read it, and I sense the world around me becoming profound when I read it. Experiences and things mysteriously conspire or happen in parallel; they goad and anticipate each other in surprising ways. I sense all this when I’m reading at lunch as I’ve been doing every day this week, sitting on a bench that’s perched on a spit of land near the bay, slowly rising and eating away at the shore where I sit, alone. And while I sit and read at the edge of the sea, I come upon this miraculously-phrased passage, which performs the very thing it’s been describing all along: “It was his fate [Whose: his or mine?], his peculiarity [Yes, yes.], whether he wished it or not, to come out thus on a spit of land [!!!], which the sea is slowly eating away, and there to stand like a desolate sea-bird, alone.” Him or me, or both? And how comes it that the bay and the sea rise up at just that moment to meet on a spit of land, where I’m perched on a bench reading, alone—wait, no, together-alone with a novel and my own reveries? I close the book and smile on my ignorance and the serendipity of it all.

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7 Responses to facing the darkness of ignorance with aplomb

  1. Beautiful words, Kevin. These moments of synchronicity are to be treasured.

  2. Kat says:

    I do love Virginia Woolf, and this is my favorite, very mysterious and mystical!

  3. What? You’re still alive? Ha ha, but really! You’ve been quiet.

    TO the lighthouse is the only Woolf I’ve read twice. Love it. Would read it again. But I’m not sure l could write about it as profoundly as this! Thanks for your thoughts – and for posting again.

    • Yes! I’m still alive, but having just now — literally — finished Lighthouse, I know that time passes, fast. And that nothing is simply one thing. Good lord, what a fine novel! I’ll read it again one day. I hope you’ve been well. If you’re on Instagram, give me a visit at http://www.instagram.com/jkneilson, where I’m most active on social. Take good care.

  4. As for what to read next, have you read A room of one’s own? A must, even for men!

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