Monday, February 29, 2016

Too Much

Yesterday's comment on Infinite Jest was unfair, as I suspected even as I wrote it. I suppose it's a tribute to the novel that it's so obviously outstanding in almost every respect you can think of that it seems to demand being judged by the highest possible standards. I did so, prematurely and inappropriately, partly as a result of the sheer power of the text.

The place to look for the stillness I was talking about is in the self, not in a work of literature, no matter how fine that work.

I find it in prayer. The discipline of the five daily prayers in Islam is not an easy one to live up to. But it teaches you things you need to know about necessary stillness. And isn't it fascinating that all the major religions in their own ways reflect this concern with locating the still centre of the turning world? I can't think of any other genuinely practical way of dealing with the fact that this world is too much with us.

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