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It is remarkable how, for those who suffer a desire for art, so much does begin and end in it.

--John Berger, A Painter of Our Time

 

I especially like the way Berger joins the two words “suffer” and “desire.” “Suffer” is the verb.

We suffer desire for many things. We tend the aches in our souls the way people in the past used to bank the hearth-fire. Perhaps, today, the way we maintain our cars.

Driving forward into desire now?

It’s particularly American, that metaphor.

(I am interested in the form that the virtual gives to the desires we suffer. Aaron Ben Ze’ev has provocative things to say on this topic. But virtual desire is not the subject here.)

I don’t think the car is really a vehicle of suffering. At least, it wasn’t intended as such.

Whereas desire is something we willingly suffer. Most of the time. As I did today, when I left my family to go for a walk on the beach, in pursuit of that elusive longing stirred by waves crashing on the shore; by a moody sky full of heavy, slate-blue clouds; by an implacable wind that shivers its way under the shirt. —An imprecise but evocative yearning that will not be named. Causing us to continue our pursuits. Causing us to want to suffer.

In its burn, by its light, we grow brighter.

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