“You know, when I start telling you something by saying, ‘I was thinking about what you said about …,’ it always gives me pleasure to say that, to let you know that I was brooding on your words. And I think the pleasure is … well, I know how much I love it when you say ‘I was thinking about what you said about …’ It’s somehow as though the part of you that’s in me will be able to nourish the part of me that’s in you, or-something-I don’t know how to put it. But that there’s some circuit of reciprocity between these holding relations: your ability to hold me inside you, and mine to hold you inside me.”
∆ Eve Sedgwick, A Dialogue on Love
The self is not unitary and separate from others; peopling occurs in the context of mutual-mental-modeling relationships, which continue to affect each person when he is alone.
I find that not trying too hard [to retain what one reads] helps. I’ve always been better at absorbing information passively, which is one reason why I’d never shame someone for scrolling while watching a movie or talking at a concert. This is one of many things I miss in our pandemic times; absorbing information indirectly through casual conversation or other forms of incidental or unexpected socializing at openings, dinners, readings, etc. Being on the move also helps.
Isn’t reading one of the worst ways of retaining information? Isn’t information better served through anecdotes, gossip, and jokes?
I have almost invariably found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal, and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people.
We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms. Most of us have the sensation that “I myself” is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body — a center which “confronts” an “external” world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. “I came into this world.” “You must face reality.” “The conquest of nature.”
This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated “egos” inside bags of skin.