Saturday, September 2, 2023

#245 / The Only Path To Understanding


Pictured above is Samuel R. Delany, an American writer and literary critic. His friends, apparently, call him, "Chip." Wikipedia tells us that Delany's work "includes fiction (especially science fiction), memoir, criticism, and essays on science fiction, literature, sexuality, and society." Delany is an interesting person, to understate the case somewhat. 
If you would like to learn more about Delany, you can consult a 2015 article in The New Yorker, entitled, "Samuel Delany and the Past and Future of Science Fiction." Much more recently, The New Yorker carried an article in its July 10-17, 2023 issue. The recent article is a rather comprehensive personal profile, and has the following title: "How Samuel R. Delany Reimagined Sci-Fi, Sex, and the City." If you read it, you will see why I can assert that it is an "understatement" to identify Delany as "interesting." I would certainly encourage you to read the most recent article. There is lots about sex, if that's an inducement!
What has sent me to my keyboard to comment, having read, myself, the most recent New Yorker article, was not, actually, anything that Delany is quoted as saying. I was struck, instead, by something that Junot Díaz, said. Díaz is another writer, and is one of Delany's friends:

“We all drink at the Delany trough,” [says] LeVar Burton, who sought out the author’s books around the time [Burton] began acting in “Star Trek.” “A lot of us just aren’t aware of the source of the water.”
Burton recently performed a staged reading of Delany’s “Driftglass,” a story about gill-equipped divers called “amphimen.” The tale inspired a young Junot Díaz to pursue writing, as he recounts in the introduction to Delany’s forthcoming “Last Tales”; now the two are good friends. [Díaz] praised Delany for exploring the complexity of human difference beyond the consoling rhetoric of self-representation.
“Chip is interested in the labyrinth,” Díaz told me. “He’s interested in how the only path to any kind of understanding is to get lost (emphasis added)."
This observation - that we find a path to understanding by getting lost, first - strikes me as profound. Signs that point us to a path, and say, in essence, "take this path to enlightenment," are paths that have been mapped out by others. If we, ourselves, want to find understanding, we will have to stumble around in the undergrowth and obscurity ourselves.  
Ad astra per aspera, as they say in Kansas. That's another way of putting the thought. Or, as the Spanish poet Antonio Machado says: 
Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar.
Friends, there isn't any "path." We make the path by walking. Click right here (and then click some more) for the entirety of what I think is my favorite poem, and a poem put to music.

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