Thinkings: Susan Neiman on light, cracks and Leonard Cohen

Thinkings: Susan Neiman

"There's a lot of talk about brokenness of the modern self. I mean, there is something about being human, at least after we left the Garden of Eden, that is permanently broken because we have a conception both of the way the world is and of the way the world ought to be. You can say this is why we have two eyes and two ears, it's to keep one eye and one ear on each side of that equation and not try to collapse them. Most people do try to collapse them. Because it's much easier to live that way. It's much easier to say eh, ought, you know, childish wish fantasy. The world is the way it is, and it's naive to think that it can be any better. And, you know, or there are of course fanatical ideologues who go in the other direction. But I think to be an honest human being involves recognising brokenness. I absolutely adore the songs of Leonard Cohen. I don't know if he's somebody who means something to you, but you'll recognise his the line, "There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in" - just, you know, magnificent." 
- Susan Neiman, author of Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, 'On God, Good & Evil' ABC Religion & Ethics


frangipani princess said...

This reminds me so much of one of my favourite books, Paper Towns by John Green. There's a quote that says:

"Each of us starts out as a watertight vessel. And these things happen - these people leave us, or don't love us, or don't get us, or we don't get them, and we lose and fail and hurt one another. And the vessel starts to crack open in places. And I mean, yeah, once the vessel cracks open, the end becomes inevitable. But there is all this time between when the cracks start to open up and when we finally fall apart. And it's only in that time that we can see one another, because we see out of ourselves through our cracks and into other through theirs. When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out."

It's one of my favourite ever quotes because the idea behind it, just like the idea behind your "thinking" today, is so beautiful.