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 but smile.


10 thoughts on “The Struggle

  1. Interesting choice of Goya’s “Third of May” painting. The struggle for the “good guys” here ends in death, but your words (perhaps like the Christ-like figure about to be shot) suggest that the struggle points not to death but to a continual death-and-rebirth.


  2. “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’ve never thought about it that way! Interesting..


  3. Great post.

    Though after reading it, I continue to remain at odds with the title.

    What is it that makes us see our life pursuits as struggle? It is as if life is all about putting our energy to do some errand and then looking forward to a good night’s rest in a comfortable bed. So what has created this perception about life in us? Is it the endless pressure to compete, perform better, achieve more than the other guy and so on? Is it because from our childhood days, we have been conditioned to become Goal seeking?

    My thought is that we need to do a ‘mind-shift’ from Goal-seeking to intention-seeking. As we do this, we commence living in the moment and enjoying the climb, knowing well there is no mountain top in life.

    My current post is on the aspect of ‘Mind-shift’ and I provide the link here , should you or your readers be interested in the process.




  4. Nice post. sometimes i think of art and writing as the individuals personal ‘Books of Life’, a sort of immortalized imprint on individuals earthly existences. Art and writing is evidence of their journeys.


  5. I finally found out that God was remaking me over in His image and not my countless dreamy images of a self. The road is fraught with dangers, holes in the ice, earthquakes, tsunami’s, arid desert, and muck. The ego will take you on ride you cannot imagine. And of course…the lies we live about ourselves are killers.


  6. That’s a great quote by David Foster Wallace, and so true! And you’re right – we can only really engage with our life when are participating in art, in some form or another. I always remember that, “We have art in order not to die of the truth.”
    Thank you for the blog ‘like’, Cristian. Great thoughts.


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