Be afriad: an uncanny thing, a good deed, a joyful leap into the abyss

A massive and sudden emergence of uncanniness, which, familiar as it might have been in an opaque and forgotten life, now harries me as radically separate, loathsome.  Not me.  Not that.  But not nothing, either.  A “something” that I do not recognize as a thing.  A weight of meaninglessness, about which there is nothing insignificant, and which crushes me.  On the edge of non-existence and hallucination, or a reality that, if I acknowledge it, annihilates me.  There, abject and abjection are my safeguards.  The primers of my culture. 

Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), p. 2.

 

Being there when the situation needed you, some third eye finds the right thing to do somehow; then, like coming up with an idea when thinking, it sticks to the bones like a paradigm.  The hard thing is to be ignorant and concerned and afraid the next time.  Out of that ignorance and concern and fear alone the good deed, the brave deed, could come. 

Alphonso Lingis, Body Transformations: Evolutions and Atavisms in Culture (New York and London: Routledge, 2005), p. 152.

 

In every exhilaration we sense the possibility that the final leap into the abyss will be experienced as joy.

Alphonso Lingis, Dangerous Emotions (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000), p. 162.

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