On Recognition

The I and the Thou never face each other naked and unadorned. When we speak to each other, our words are hand-me-downs, well-worn tokens used by countless others before us, the detritus of endless myths and movies, poetry anthologies and political speeches. Our language is stuffed thick with figures, larded with metaphors, encrusted with layers of meaning that escape us….

Yet structures that constrain also sustain; the beliefs and traditions that envelop us are a source of meaning as well as mystification. The words of the past acquire a new luster as we polish and refurbish them in our many interactions… We are embodied and embedded beings who use and are used by words… Rather than blocking self-knowledge, language is our primary means of attaining it, however partial and flawed our attempts at understanding ourselves and others must be.  (31)

Felski, Rita. “Recognition.” Uses of Literature. New York: Blackwell, 2008. 23-50.

File this one under “random moments of beauty stumbled upon during homework.” Because wow.

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