Ordinary Unhappiness

I got acquainted with the American author David Foster Wallace while I was in Rome looking for The Savage Detectives by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. The Chilean’s book was sold out, so the friendly girl working at the bookstore said I should try this one instead as she passed me Infinite Jest. I bought the book, and two others, and, perhaps three years later, I finished the book (and most of his other stuff). 

That event in Rome took place in 2008, a few months after Wallace’s suicide. I mentioned this story because, for several years, I have thought about writing about the philosophy of DFW, but now I don’t have to. Writer, journalist, and the founding editor of The Point, Jon Baskin, has written an admirable book called Ordinary Unhappiness: The Therapeutic Fiction of David Foster Wallace. In this book, he illustrates how Wallace’s fiction is an encounter with various ways of doing philosophy. 

Baskin is not the first to explore the universe of Wallace through a philosophical lens. For instance, of noteworthy mention is Marshall Boswell’s Understanding David Foster Wallace, published in 2003; however, due to the time of publication, this work didn’t cover all of Wallace’s fiction. Furthermore, Baskin deals solely with Wallace’s fiction, showing not only the philosophical quality of literary critics but also—and more importantly—how fiction at times can be regarded as philosophy. 

Philosophy for Baskin is not just a method “exposing logical fallacies”. “There is not,” as Ludwig Wittgenstein writes in Philosophical Investigations, “philosophical method, though there are indeed methods, like different therapies.” (p. 5–6). 

To explain what he means by this crucial concept of “therapeutic”, Baskin relies on the two philosophers Stanley Cavell and Robert Pippin and their reading of Wittgenstein “… therapeutically, criticism—in both Cavell’s and Pippin’s hands—is concerned with what has kept us from seeing what is right on the text’s surface. It seeks to expose not something hidden in the work of art but something we have hidden from ourselves” (p. 35). 

The problem being addressed is not something to be found in the text but in ourselves, in our form of life, our approach, or relationship with the text. Therefore, the philosophical or literary therapy of Wallace is not concerned with answers but “aimed at helping us see the senselessness of our questions” (p. 78). The problems in life should not be treated like the questions at a quiz-show. Instead, by exploring our approach toward life (or a text), we might become aware or conscious about the fragile and temporary position we speak or see from, as if our position were closer to the truths. Another way of illustrating this is by stressing Wallace’s wish to overcome the stereotypical academic debate between solid positions: position A oppose position B and so forth; rather, Wallace brings the reader out into the open, naked or without his or her academic amour, in a kind of constantly emerging pre-position where the point is not to debate who is right; rather to recognize “problems as different, your world if different,” as Cavell is quoted as saying (p. 78). 

If I should have one critique of Baskin’s exemplary study, it would be to unfold the relationship between philosophical therapy and ethics even further. By seeing ethics not as a predefined normative program or as something transcendent or abstract but as an immanent way of living a lifestyle. Other interesting studies about Wittgenstein are James C. Edwards’ Ethics Without Philosophy (1982) and James F. Peterman’s Philosophy as Therapy (1992). For example, by linking thinking to living and vice versa, a philosophical therapy makes us see new possibilities or forms of life. The therapeutic—philosophical or literary—doesn’t, therefore, refer to a process of normalizing, that is to say, by telling or showing us what to think, feel, do, or live; rather, it aims at making everything more real, not by explaining but unfolding. To paraphrase Wittgenstein, I might say that philosophical work is transformative in the sense that the world of the person who has read Infinite Jest is different from that of one who has not. Hereby, I don’t make a moral judgement but a literary or philosophical one.

One of the problems of our time, according to Wallace, is related to how we think, i.e., how we relate to the world. The argument goes like this: the same kind of thinking that creates a problem can’t overcome it—the problem is part of our way of seeing, thinking. 

As Baskin writes, “For Wallace, the separation of philosophy from literature—and the crude dichotomies often correlated with the separation: mind/body, theoretical/practical, intellectual/emotional—are both a cause and a symptom of a ‘dis-ease,’ as he calls it in Infinite Jest, at the heart of modern and postmodern self-consciousness. Bringing philosophy and literature together becomes the precondition for even being able to see—much less to address or “treat”—the many symptoms of this dis-ease in our everyday lives and in ourselves.” (p. 4).

There is a quote from Infinite Jest that, in my opinion, might illustrate the goal of Wallace’s work and clarify this even further. “But what of the freedom-to? Not just freedom-from. Not all compulsion comes from without. You pretend you do not see this. What of freedom-to. How for the person to freely choose? How to choose any but a child’s greedy choices if there is no loving-filled father to guide, inform, teach the person how to choose? How is there freedom to choose if one does not learn how to choose?” 

Freedom does not refer to an irresponsible adolescent or immature “I can-do-want-I want- attitude; rather it is to be bound by the right strings—those that make sense. Baskin writes that Wallace want us—the readers—“to value verbal honesty over empty cleverness” (p. 72); Wallace wants “to help us see the connection between psychological suffering and our habits of thought,” (p. 38). What Wallace is asking for; however, is not for someone to tell us what to choose or think, rather how to choose and how to think. In his commencement speech, Wallace talks about paying attention to live consciously in order to take more beneficial decisions in life. Another way of saying this is the way in which the “love-filled” parent or guide could help the child see the world more clearly or, as Wittgenstein says, in “clarity”, to bring peace to mind. 

Henceforth, the disease of today—“our philosophical problem (p.131)—is related to adolescence, a philosophical immatureness as when we hide between clever identities or ideals, instead of trying to think ourselves. “That maturity requires wisdom,” writes Baskin, a wisdom we can see being outlined in Wallace’s last unfinished work The Pale King. In this last novel, Wallace reactivates some of that ideas that formed his Infinite Jest; for example, the philosophy of freedom, the AA-session, and how addiction infects our will—“addicted to thinking, meaning they have a compulsive and unhealthy relationship with their own thought,” writes Wallace in Infinite Jest

A part of maturing or becoming wise has to do with “being an uncomplaining adult, who suffers the indignities of life without making too much of them.” (p.129). Not as a kind of resentment or passive nihilism, rather as an acceptance or, as the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze defines ethics, as “not being unworthy to what happens to us”. It is also this understanding that makes the titles of Baskin’s book meaningful as well as beautiful. The goal is never to solve all the problems in life—how could we even live our life without encountering problems—but rather, to quote Freud through Baskin, “if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into ordinary unhappiness” (p. 19).

Baskin succeeds in making sense of why Wallace’s task mattered so urgently for him and why it might matter to us. Like all good art, it’s about life and death, about what it means to be a human being, about teaching us how to think. 

No user’s guide can help those who still haven’t read Infinite Jest and The Pale King. No one becomes a chef in the kitchen by reading cookbooks; they become one only by crying while cutting the onions and sweating while frying the mushroom. Baskin, I believe, would agree to this when it comes to understanding Wallace’s fiction; and even if by thinking with, through, or against him, there can be no substitute for reading his work in all its difficulty, and, at times, boredom. 

Wallace’s work is a diagnose and not a cure for our world; he helps us see that stress, burnout, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc., shouldn’t be regarded as individual diagnoses. Rather, it a diagnosis of a social structure or underlying governmental neoliberal ideology that is sick; “to live today is simply to be subject to such breakdowns.” Similarly, if we are just “doing our jobs” as in the great bureaucratical excuse (p.58), then perhaps our society is evil (Arendt). 

Baskin’s book is, of course, relevant and insightful to all readers of Wallace, both literary critics and laypeople, but the book is also relevant for students of philosophy with an interest in philosophical or literary therapy as something other than psychological therapy. 

I highly recommend this book.

First published in Metapsychology, Vol. 24, No. 27

Kierkegaard: Love, literature & life

“Loving people is the only thing worth living for.” – Søren Kierkegaard

I will be participating in the “Ciclo de conferencias ‘Europa en la cultura'” held at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Ecuador.

The conference takes place next week.

Tuesday the 10th of December, I will be given a talk on “Kierkegaard and the concept of love as a political force.”

“Everything I do I do with love, and so I also love with love,” Kierkegaard writes in Either-Or.

***

The following two days, the 11th and 12th respectively, I will be organizing two seminars or lectures on “Philosophy, literature and a new therapeutical approach to life.

During these seminars, I will relate my thoughts to philosophers such as Deleuze, Weil, Murdoch and Wittgenstein to both problematize our current achievement society, as well as proposing possible escape routes. To strengthen my argument, I will–briefly–refer to artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Karl Ove Knausgård, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf and Roberto Bolaño.

If you happen to be in Quito, Ecuador, you’re welcome!

Roberto Bolaño og kunsten

Det er ikke muligt at penetrere livets eller kunstens inderste hemmelighed. Men den kan erfares gennem de produkter, som et livs kreative handlinger efterlader. Sådan skal man læse den chilenske forfatter Roberto Bolaño, for sådanne efterladenskaber udgør eksistensens fundament. Og med et sådant kan der måske gives et svar på, hvordan lever man i en verden fuld af vold, pengegriskhed og had?

Læs essayet “Hver eneste forbandet ting er vigtig” i anledning af, at Bolaño døde på en solrig dag, som i dag, tilbage i 2003.

Nietzsche and Psychotherapy

It looks like the 21st century will become one of philosophical therapy.

Philosophy has moved out of the ivory tower and back into the public sphere from where it began. At times, this trend enhances the public debate and, at others, only populates philosophy to make it more marketable. The latter is often disguised self-help literature.

Another, more important reason for the awakening of philosophy is that many of today’s illness cannot be graphed using psychology. Stress, burnout, borderline, and depression can no longer be regarded as individual diagnoses. Rather, they are symptoms of a sick society. Among the philosophers who are often used in philosophical therapy, is the late Wittgenstein and his mantra “meaning is use,” or existentialist, especially when they are dealing with a pallet of powerful concepts, such as false belief, anxiety, authenticity, responsibility, freedom, and perhaps most popular, stoicism, which some used to overcome their vulnerabilities and attain peace of mind. For example, the stoic tries to eliminate the passions that cause a person to suffer. Stoicism is closely related to religious or spiritual thinkers in that they operate based on a kind of salvation, a stage in which they no longer suffer from pain or loss.

Then, there is Nietzsche.

Psychotherapist Manu Bazzano has written Nietzsche and Psychotherapy. Unlike the stoic, Nietzsche saw suffering and loss as a part of what makes a life worth living. A full and flourishing life has something at stake. For example, my love for my wife and our children makes me vulnerable because I could lose them.

Nietzsche and Psychotherapy can be read as a Nietzschean experiment that brings some of the German thinker’s concept, including joy, becoming, will to power, etc., into psychotherapy.

Bazzano shows how radical and powerful a thinker Nietzsche is, as well as how psychotherapists can learn or be inspired by his thoughts.

 For example, he tries to compare the life-affirming and life-denying approach by taking what works from psychotherapy and adding a dose of Nietzsche where these practices do not work. “In person-centered therapy it is assumed—rightly, I think—that the person receiving therapy is in a states of incongruence… It is also generally assumed—wrongly, I think—that ‘successful’ therapy means the coming together of organism and self-concept” (p. 31).

The first is right, according to the author, because those who suffer from a crisis indirectly are inviting creative experimentation into their lives. However, they do not do so to find themselves but to overcome. The self is not found; rather, it is achieved or created.

According to Nietzsche, philosophy starts in fear. For example, fear in today’s performance or achievement society has reduced education and therapy into punishment. Here, Bazzano tries to liberate psychotherapy so it becomes more creative and less judgmental. “Therapeia means, after all, healing…The nihilistic, life-denying influence of our culture has made sure that psychotherapy replicates these principles, thus functioning as a mouthpiece for a pervasive ideology of resentment” (p. 134). Instead of a passive nihilistic approach to life, Bazzano suggests the adoption of an “active nihilism” that turns therapy into a kind of entertainment, a term that originally means  “holding together” (p. 150).

Holding what together, we might ask. A myriad of interpretations of what it is that actually is holding life together (or potentially might hold it together), and how intense it is doing so, etc. The approach related to Nietzsche goes against a mechanical, teleological or strictly normative approach; instead it opens for a more intuitive, poetic and liberating relationship to and with life. “Where you can guess, there you hate to deduce,” Nietzsche is quoted for saying. Bazzano call it “therapy without prejudice” (p. 82).

In a psychotherapeutic setting it “means that the criteria of true and false no longer have primacy and are superseded by new criteria of high and low, noble and mean. What begins to matter more is the sense and value of what one thinks, feels and says” (p. 165). In his book on Nietzsche, the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze said something like that we have the thoughts and feeling we have due to our form of life.

Reading Nietzsche and Psychotherapy, you instantly notice that Bazzano is a man with an agenda. He exemplifies Nietzsche, where the German said: “Every talent must unfold itself in fighting” (p. 50).

The book is not a critical inquiry into Nietzsche, but one using Nietzsche to conduct a critical inquiry into psychotherapy, yet always trying to do so in an affirmative way. I would not recommend the book to readers with no knowledge of either Nietzsche or psychotherapy. However, if the reader has some experience in these areas, the book is inspiring. Furthermore, the book is full of illuminating quotes by Nietzsche and Deleuze, which actually make it archaeological.

The writer ends, “We go on digging. The conversation is infinite.”

Review published in Metapsychology, Volume 23, Issue 24

Og helvede?

»Og helvede?,« spørger journalisten Mónica Maristain den chilenske forfatter Roberto Bolaño, og han svarer: »Det er ligesom Ciudad Juárez, vores forbandelse og spejl, en foruroligende refleksion af vores frustrationer, og af vores berygtede fortolkning af frihed og af vores begær.«

Læs mit essay Hver eneste forbandet ting er vigtig i anledning af Roberto Bolaños fødselsdag i 1953.

Wittgenstein and therapy

Psychotherapist John M. Heaton has written an interesting book about practical philosophy and the use of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s thoughts on psychology. The book is called Wittgenstein and Psychotherapy. From Paradox to Wonder. In a way, it moves from the paradoxes of the early Wittgenstein to the wonder of the latter, although the book addresses the paradoxes of many theories in psychology.

The aim of the book is to move psychotherapy away from its particularly Freudian doctrines and dogmatic norms toward the therapist acting “like a mirror.” An eventual cure, Heaton points out, doesn’t only depend on theories and techniques, but much more on the relationship between therapist and patient.

The therapist, therefore, doesn’t guide the patient toward what the therapist believes to be an accurate picture of reality; rather, he or she pays attention, and then mirrors how the patient makes sense (or fails to make sense). Therapy becomes a way of allowing the patient to see and hear what he or she is saying. Encourage the patient to express him or herself. Heaton is pleading for a more humble and curious approach. The author uses his practical experience to emphasize how the therapist will achieve a better result if one has a better understanding of language (e.g., how language can produce false appearances that may separate the patient from the world).

The book is scattered with illuminating quotes from Wittgenstein, just as it raises a serious and severe critique toward Freudian so-called scientific psychoanalysis. “A philosophical problem has the form: “I don’t know my way around,” says Wittgenstein.

The paradoxes in psychoanalysis are that a too rigid theory leads to less acceptable suggestions. Our relationship with life becomes limited. For example, “We tend to picture thought as representation that reality must fit or fail to fit. . . . It is assumed that what the analyst thinks must be true.” However, sometimes our capacity to use language is sufficiently limited. And yet, just because we can’t articulate it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. This experience can lead to wonder and how to make sense of these.

Unfortunately, “Our disease is one of wanting to explain,” Wittgenstein is quoted for saying. Therefore, the therapist’s ear and vision is clouded by the theoretical ideals. How does one open his or her senses?

“To recognize something as true,” Heaton writes, “is to make a judgment and this involves making sense.” Make sense of sense, that is. How? Heaton, in continuation of Wittgenstein, suggests that in order to understand people, we must be able to read and understand the context because then, we can better understand their intention of saying or doing what they do. His approach is based on compassion for the others’ form of life. For this reason, the relationship between therapist and patient is crucial, not the theoretical armor that a therapist hides behind. It’s the relationship that facilitates the possibility of living in the world with the patient.

A happy person lives in a happy world because of his or her form of life. Similarly, an unhappy person lives in a different world–so it seems, although the world is the same, due to his or her form of life.

The book is for everyone who is interested in psychology or practical philosophy (including therapists, students, and the many consultants who implement Wittgenstein’s teachings). Heaton encourages the reader to unfold the process of sense-making–that is, to see it as a process without an ultimate reference. If one can do that then the patient will be free to find or create the form of his or her life.

The book is a well-composed mixture of theory and practice with a slant in favor of theory. It doesn’t require knowledge of Wittgenstein, but it helps if the reader is familiar with Freudian theory and practice in order to qualify the critique that Heaton raises. It’s a highly welcome approach that challenges a growing tendency–perhaps due to a growing insecurity–to see psychological experts as infallible.

This review was first published in MetapsychologyVolume 19, Issue 47, 2015.

 

Mona Lisa smiler endnu

Alt for mange synes at brokke sig. Det er blevet for legitimt, ligefrem prisværdigt at brokke sig. Det sker uden andet formål end selve brokkeriet. Problemet er ikke brokkeriet som sådan. At få lidt luft er uden tvivl ok. Snarere at denne ødelæggende praksis, har minimeret det skabende og sunde element i en saglig kritik.

Lad mig komme med et par dagligdagseksempler.

En af mine venner siger, at alt i fjernsynet er dårligt. Jeg tror ham ikke, men jeg ved det ikke. Jeg ser ikke rigtigt fjernsyn, kun fodboldfinaler og Tour de France. Nogle af disse finaler og cykelløb er gode. Det afhænger af hvem, der vinder. Alligevel tror jeg, at der i dag laves bedre fjernsynsprogrammer end tidligere. Der er simpelthen flere dygtige og kritiske journalister. Jeg tror også, at der laves bedre tv-serier end tidligere. Kvaliteten og den kunstneriske opfindsomhed har formået at udnytte dette medie ved hjælp af narrative teknikker, som ellers tidligere var forbeholdt litteraturen. De fleste danskere ved, hvem Mads Skjern fra tv-serien Matador er. Det sørger Danmarks Radio for, idet de genudsender serien hvert fjerde-femte år. Mads Skjern er mange ting, men mest af alt er han ret firkantet. Han er mere eller mindre den samme i alle afsnittene. Han minder om karaktererne i en krimi, som selv efter sytten bind stadigvæk opfører sig præcist, som i bind et. Det er utroværdigt. Et menneske påvirkes, et menneske forandrer sig, det udvikles. Tag dernæst reklamemanden Don Draper i tv-serien Mad Men, selv efter fire-fem afsnit (har ikke set flere) fremstår Draper væsentligt mere kompleks end Mads Skjern. Der er øjeblikke, hvor Draper konfrontereres med sine barndomserindringer; andre, hvor han formår at lade sig påvirke i nuet, hvorved han tager beslutninger, der bringer ham videre – og som bringer serien videre. Mængden af møg i fjernsynet er uden tvivl vokset, men det er ikke det samme, som at alt er dårligt.

Et andet eksempel. En af mine bekendte siger, at der ikke er nogle originale forfattere, der skriver p.t. Jeg foreslog, at hun orienterede sig lidt bredere end udvalget i Føtex. Ja, selv lidt bredere end hvad den lille danske andedam kan levere – skønt der i Danmark findes originale forfattere, som også vil blive læst om ti, tyve og tredive år. Det er klart, at der i dag er flere forfattere end nogensinde. Alle kan stort set få udgivet en bog, eller om ikke andet selv udgive den. Det medfører en eksplosiv stigning i misbrug af papir og blæk og ord. Ikke desto mindre udgives der stadigvæk romaner, noveller, digte, essays og rejseskildringer, som fylder mig med stor taknemmelighed.

Et tredje eksempel. En af mine kolleger brokker sig over Facebook og Twitter. Han brokker sig over den manglende tid. Den stigende overfladiskhed. Jeg får lidt ondt af ham. Så megen negativitet. Så megen kønsløs brok. Måske er Facebook og alt det andet sociale mediegøgl spild. Jeg ved det ikke. Jeg nåede ikke at komme på, og har aldrig haft lysten til at følge trop. Problemet er dog ikke Facebook eller andre sociale medier, men at mange ikke kan finde ud af at sige ”nej”. Og det kan de ikke, fordi de ikke ved, hvad de vil sige ”ja” til. De ved med andre ord, ikke hvad de vil, hvad der vigtigt. Så længe der ikke er nogen passion, kan alt tage sig ud som spild af tid. Måske er det passionen min kollega mangler. I hvert fald har han ikke lavet meget andet end ingenting det meste af sit liv.

Apropos Facebook, så læste jeg fornylig en psedudokritisk overskrift, der stillede spørgsmålet i forbindelse med Facebooks ti år fødselsdag: Hvor meget tid har du spildt? Det ville være spild af tid at besvare sådan et spørgsmål. Er det virkelig niveauet for kritik?

Et fjerde eksempel. En eller anden brokker sig over dagens ledere – især politikerne. De er dumme. Rigtig dumme. Det er der intet nyt i. Alligevel er der trods alt også nogle, som gør et ret godt stykke arbejde, når man nu tager befolkningen in mente.

Et femte eksempel. En af mine gamle venner brokkede sig over at kvinderne i dag ikke vil kærligheden. De tør den ikke. En af mine andre venner siger det samme, men hun er kvinde, og hun er ikke lesbisk. Det er selvfølgelig altid belejligt, når man kan generalisere. Måske er det særlig rart, hvis man kan overbevise sig selv om, at ens manglende attraktivitet ikke skyldes en selv, men en flok kønsbehårede feminister eller androgyne mænd, som ikke kan holde ud at være sammen med et andet menneske. Det kan være svært at give sig hen. Det kan være svært at turde miste sig selv. Alligevel ser jeg hver dag mænd og kvinder, voksne og unge, som gør ting ved hinanden som varmer mig. Jeg ser kærlighed. Jeg ser menneskelig generøsitet.

Hvad er pointen med alle disse trivielle eksempler?

Brokkeriet overser, at enhver kritik altid er fuld af glæde. Det som jeg kalder brok er trist ynk. Det trætter mig. Jeg er opdraget med den tyske filosof Friedrich Nietzsche på natbordet. Det vil sige, han har ligget på mit natbord siden min brors al for tidlige død gjorde mig opmærksom på en ting: livet er alvor. Det er endeligt. Det skal tages seriøst. Jeg var 19 år gammel.

Det var Nietzsche som sagde, at kritik altid er fuld af glæde. En nøgtern kritisk rummer altid et alternativ. Du kritiserer ved at skabe nye værdier. Du kritiserer ved at producere ny mening. Dengang, hvor Nietzsche sagde at Gud var død, så kritiserede han ikke alene nihilismen. Snarere kritiserede han det manglende mod og vilje til at skabe værdier og mening. Han efterlyste Overmennesket, som aldrig stod på skuldrene af nogle højere og bedre idealer. Nej. Overmennesket evnede at skabe. Skabe plads til det levende.

Det kan også siges anderledes med litteraturen, som reference. Ingen bliver partout en stor forfatter, fordi han eller hun har oplevet noget særligt. Brokkeriet bunder, som i mine eksempler, altid i den personlige erfaring, som de færreste formår at almengøre. Det drejer sig altså om, hvad man evner at gøre med det materiale, som man nu engang har. Der er for eksempel en dansk forfatterinde, som har formået at forvandle en barndom på landet, nogle æbler og en bageplade til noget ganske sensuelt. En anden har konstrueret et bjerg. En hel komposition opstod på grund af bjergets indflydelse på alt omkring det.

Jeg er træt af brok. Hvilket jo er et dilemma, fordi brok kun fører til mere brok. Den giver grimme rynker og sur mave; den mangler det som Nietzsche kaldte ”vilje til magt”, denne kreative kraft til at ville det, som man kan. Nietzsche vidste, at frihed ikke handler om at gøre det man vil, men om at ville det, man kan.

Så ikke mere brok.

Eksempelvis kunne brokkehovederne prøve at skabe nogle rammer, hvor det kunne være muligt at elske, skrive, se fjernsyn, lave politik, som er bedre end i dag. Dette kræver selvsagt mod. Det kræver fantasi, vel og mærke en fantasi der er forankret i en virkelighed. Brok er alt for nemt. Første skridt må derfor være, at frigøre sig fra de ting som åbenbart undertrykker en, de ting som hæmmer.

Det jeg ønsker eller det, som jeg plæderer for, er en konstruktiv kritik; den form for kritik, der ikke bare brokker sig, men som bruger det, der er, til at komme videre. Jeg ønsker, at den enkelte tager lidt ansvar for sin egen skæbne. Jeg ønsker, at den enkelte formår at gøre sig værdig til det, som sker. Livet er for kort til at brokke sig over fjernsynet eller Facebook, når det ikke er synderligt at svært at slukke eller logge af.

Jeg skriver dette, fordi jeg helt naivt og romantisk drømmer om en mere kærlig verden. Jeg er en nutidsutopiker. Jeg drømmer om en verden fuld af mindre brok, ikke mindre kritik. Min mor sagde engang, som så mange andre mødre før hende: ”Har du ikke noget pænt at sige, så hold din kæft.” Filosoffen Ludwig Wittgenstein sagde noget tilsvarende, blot mere genialt (undskyld mor!): ”Det, hvorom man ikke tale, om det må man tie.”

Kan du, kære brokker, ikke forestille dig noget bedre. Kan du, kære brokker, ikke producerer ny mening. Evner du, kære brokker, ikke at skabe værdier, der bekræfter det livagtige i livet, hvorved de taknemmelige tårer springer frem, så må du tie. Pænere kan det ikke siges.

Brok er dræbende, fordi ingenting for alvor bliver sagt. Tomgang. Enhver skabelse er derimod en lille kærlig protest, som holder liv i livet. Måske er det netop grunden til at det stik modsatte af brok er kunst. Kunsten er den eneste ting, der formår at overvinde døden. Mona Lisa smiler endnu.