Friday, May 11, 2018

She took the entire village into herself

There are two kinds of learning, from the inside and from the outside. The fist is regarded as the best, or even the only kind. And so people learn through distant journeys, watching, reading, universities and lectures — they learn from what is happening outside them. Man is a stupid creature who had to learn. So he tacks knowledge onto himself, he gathers it like a bee, gaining more and more of it, putting it to use and processing it. But the thing inside that is "stupid" and needs learning doesn't change.

Cornspike learned by absorbing things from the outside to the inside.

Knowledge that is only grown on the outside changes nothing inside a man, or merely changes him on the surface, as one garment is changed for another. But he who learns by taking things inside himself undergoes constant transformation, because he incorporates what he learns into his being.

So by taking the stinking, dirty peasants from Primeval and the district into herself, Cornspike became just like them, was drunk just like them, frightened by the war just like them, and aroused just like them. What's more, by taking them into herself in the bushes behind the inn, Cornspike also took in their wives, their children, and their stuffy, stinking wooden cottages around Maybug Hill. In a way she took the entire village into herself, every pain in the village, and every hope.
— from Primeval and Other Times, by Olga Tokarczuk.

I'm in the very early pages, but this is absolutely the right book for my headspace.

I'm reminded of memory eaters, dream eaters, sun eaters. Bibliophagia. We learn from the food we eat, the wine we drink, the air we breathe. Eat your words. Of course, there are more ways to absorb than via ingestion. I think of the tragedy I learned in that shitty opium den of an apartment.

The story of Cornspike gutted me.

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