Better-Sounding Reasons

From outside, objectively, it is hard not to ascribe a fullness of meaning to the things other people do. They did X therefore they must feel Y. But human action is seldom so tightly chained to will or desire.

As with the character earnestly, doubtfully questioning the dark — but quietly, in case no one is actually there — people’s actions sometimes are senseless, are not thought through, don’t have a completeness of meaning. They’re absurd, in other words.

We can’t always know why we do or say certain things. There’s no reason, sometimes. Or — and here’s where G. rises above Freud, in my opinion — the reason is so stupid or shoddy, so objectively beneath the occasion, that it is better kept in the dark, so we invent better-sounding reasons, even if those reasons make us look worse. We’ll sooner describe ourselves as evil than as confused.

The stories we tell to make ourselves appear adequate to our shared ideals betray our humanity, force our human looseness, our unformedness, into some kind of straightjacket. Gombrowicz was about resisting those stories, those little sclerotic dishonesties — the better-sounding reasons for our inconsistent lives. Such stories harden the human countenance into a grimace.

Instead you should reveal your truth, G. said. Come clean with what is shoddy and obscure and inconsistent about you, revel in it and glorify it, and it will in turn strengthen you rather than pull you down.

I went to the fashionable store Ostende and bought a pair of yellow shoes, which turned out to be too tight. So I went back to the store and exchanged this pair for another in exactly the same style and size and identical in every other respect and they turned out to be equally tight.
Sometimes I amaze myself.

(from Diary)

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