The Struggle

struggleIn an essay about Kafka, David Foster Wallace wrote the following words, “the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. [...] our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.”

Now, he was talking about Kafka’s works, but I think that phrase pretty much sums up what life is all about.

As a writer, as an artist, I’m interested in people. It’s not only about empathy, but also about understanding how things work. That’s something you can’t really learn. Or read about in a book. You either have it or you don’t.

Now, about this phrase. The journey, not the destination.

Yes, I believe it’s true, and I believe that the main theme in art could be the question, “who am I becoming?” We never become someone, we’re always in the process of becoming someone, and there’s always something deeply embedded in your souls that remembers us where we came from.

It’s all about the struggle: to establish a human self, to figure out who you are, to figure out who you want to be. To find a place in this world.

There are no trivial pursuits in life. Or art for that matter. They may seems trivial to us, at one point or another, but they’re not.

You know, a lot of people think all these popular novels about vampires are just commercial fiction. Light literature, some of you might call them. But I guess that to a great deal of those who actually wrote them, it’s about some important aspect of their personalities: someone wanting to be immortal, and strong, and fast, and beautiful. That’s a dream. Impossible? Maybe. But a dream nonetheless.

I believe we all write a great deal about ourselves. About our own struggles, about the parts that are missing, or the parts that we think are missing. About what we want or what we need, all that stuff.

In the end, what we write about tells others a great deal about who we are. Maybe more than we could ever be able to tell them directly.

Perhaps it’s all about the struggle. That impossible journey towards a home we dream about, and we can picture it in our heads so clearly, even though we’ve never seen it. Consciously, we don’t know how it looks like. In the day to day world of petty frustrations and stupid arguments, and countless bills and troubles, we don’t have time to see these sort of things. We don’t have time to figure out who we want to be.

But when we make art, that’s when we can see the dark and twisted road that is our home. Never-ending  and cruel, but we’re so certain that we’re headed the right direction that we can’t help ourselves and smile.

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15 comments on “The Struggle

  1. cardamone5 says:

    Dear Cristian:

    Wonderful post and quote. You inadvertently led me to the theme I will use for the A-Z Challenge in April: the universal struggle that is necessary to reach your highest potential.

    Thanks again,
    Elizabeth

  2. doe14 says:

    well said

  3. clisawork says:

    Sometimes I think that writing like writing about vampires is writing unconsciously about the self – as you say writing about what you want but not directly. A great many of truly great authors wrote consciously about their struggles to understand themselves and the world. I think the danger is to write, or create art, and to not do it intentionally with an understanding of how this reflects you, your culture, and changes that are taking place in you as you create. The authors I truly admire are always extremely conscious of these things and it shows in their works. If you write,well I’ll say it and it will show my bias, fluff you write without thinking about what your work says about your inner life, your relationship with your culture, your relationship with language, or your relationship with the reader. That is why some author’s work endures – because of this complete consciousness and awareness and it transcends time and place. These are universal themes, whereas vampires (I’m sorry to all vampire fans) are not.

  4. JojoVovo says:

    Argh! Well put. Thumb faster than brain…

  5. susanddhavle says:

    Listen, this was a most beautiful piece of writing. Yes, the only known destination is death, but if getting there means reading some wonderful writers ( and you included), then life is worth it. For me blogging is about reading and writing….the decoration etc draws people in but they must feel your soul. Thank you.

  6. Everything you’ve written here is so true, especially the part where you spoke about the things we write. I think all forms of creativity are an expression of one’s self. Writing, especially is so powerful, as a form of release, as a means to understand or question the world around you. Thank you for this blog. :)

  7. johnnajay says:

    I think in this way as well. Reading what you wrote made me think about this : How we give advice to the people around us. They say that we give them advice, but it is actually advice to ourselves.
    Thanks for the quote!
    Your writing is very nice as well. I like that you try your hardest with it :) A lot of respect :)

  8. Crisitian, thank you for sharing. A wonderful article.
    Richard

  9. ray032 says:

    My pleasure reading and sharing this on my FB page with this intro: Mature or immature, there’s something for everybody in this short essay.

  10. karen698 says:

    This is a nice piece. I like your thought that art only tells where we have been. You paragraph about change struck a chord with me. Change is the essence of life, but we are all so scared of it.

  11. What would life be without that struggle ? We would be programmable robots or machines without emotions and feelings. It would probably an ideal state of “being” for all “good ” capitalists of this world though. Isn’t that what they are working on presently with their researches on the brain and their so-called behavioral “therapy” ?… Feel free to struggle while you still can…

  12. Samantha says:

    Great post! It’s the struggle that defines us.

  13. Sunny says:

    You drew me in with the Goya painting; it’s one of my favorites although it marks a terrible period in the history of Spain. The despair on the faces, and the incredulity speak to me. You kept me reading with your exposition of the Kafka quote. Life is certainly the struggle and the journey, and they both make us who we are. Well expressed.

  14. Italo says:

    I wrote something very similar recently about being on a journey “home”, although home is not a building or a structure but more a state of mind. I believe that’s where everybody want to get to when we write in our blogs or short stories: we are on our journey home. Great post!

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