Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beginning of a beginning


One who lets words be, knows they are capable of the occasional wonders and surprises that spring right in front of you just when you have lost all hope and have had your share of contemplation of the Hamletian murmur, "Words, words, words."
      The opening of fifth chapter of José Saramago's The Cave, adresses a similar predicament. To my utter surprise, the words on the page complemented the exact problem that had occupied a good portion my day today. The problem of a beginning. How do we begin anything? How does that thing begin which, before its much anticipated inception has been pondered on lest something turns out into a chaos? The fear of beginning a thing (like a creative initiative, a responsible task for one's job) is something, I believe, a lot of you could share with me. How to begin your writing? How do we begin teaching in a class even? What repercussions can, a not so discreet, a beginning have on the rest of the assignment, lecture, poem, meeting or a product, call what you may. 
                     "Begin at the beginning,". 
     But after all, how to determine that beginning? Or maybe not even that; how can one say this is my beginning and thus I begin? What I mean to say is that if what we begin is taking shape in one's mind previously or prior to the material act of jotting a word in ink or, say, clicking the green button on one's mobile to make a call, how determinately can we claim, right, 'this' is the beginning of what I begin? Another problematic concern emerges so. I. What exactly is it that 'I' begin? And the most essential of all, who am I (to begin)?
     The opposition of what begins and what ends opens up interminably when we ask that. But getting back to the immediate call on one character's assertion in this novel, that is, beginning at the beginning, Saramago says something which only he can:
  
   "Marta said to her father, Let's begin at the beginning, and it was as if all they needed to do was sit down at the table and start.... These are the delusions of the pure and the unprepared, the beginning is a long, painfully slow process that requires time and patience in order to find out in which direction it is heading, a process that feels its way along the path ahead like a blind man, the beginning is just the beginning, what came before is nigh on worthless."

I cannot say, I begin, or 'this' is the beginning of me. The issues problematize my existence. I am reminded of a Hamlet, a Herzog, or even Siddhartha. Do they ascertain the beginning of their being; even of what they do? It is something I ain't sure of. But perhaps these characters are more and more aware of it all as a "long, painfully slow process that requires time and patience in order to find out..., a process that feels its way along the path ahead like a blind man, (for) the beginning is just the beginning,", and what was it before, what is its beginning, and what will be the end, is "nigh on worthless".         ~ The Cave, pg 54

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