Monday, 27 April 2009

Empathising with Flaubert

Done more research about creativity, epilepsy and watching the mind and found detail about Flaubert's epilepsy and his writing about it:....

The onset of his epileptic attacks allowed Flaubert to abandon his education at law school and, in many ways, created a space for Flaubert to live a life of the imagination.

He was working away at studying for his law examinations, had taken a brief break from his studies and returned to Rouen to visit with his family. While home, his older brother Achille and he had gone on a trip to look into the possibility of buying a cottage. On that ride in the dark which is unimaginable to us now because we live in a world that is perpetually filled with light pollution, Flaubert had his first attack of epilepsy. His falling allowed him to return to a life of reverie and, although there were innumerable fees to be paid to the gods of modern day medicine, his time became his own.

But what had happened? What had transpired in his mind? Later, he would write to his lover, Louise Colet, in a letter the following:

"Each attack was like a hemorrhage of the nervous system. Seminal losses from the pictorial faculty of the brain, a hundred thousand images cavorting at once in a kind of fireworks. It was a snatching of the soul from the body, excruciating. (I am convinced I died several times.) But what constitutes the personality, the rational essence, was present throughout; had it not been, the suffering would have been for nothing, for I would have been purely passive, whereas I was always conscious even when I could no longer speak. Thus my soul was turned back entirely on itself, like a hedgehog wounding itself with its own quills."

The fireworks of the self caught in temporal agony. The space of the self becomes expansive and vast. I understand this particular possibility of the self because it resonates with what I've felt in the past. The agony of seeing past the limit. The limit of the agony past seeing. The seeing limit of the past agony. There is a space of consequent understanding here which belies any simple attempt to map the mind.

A lot i can empathise with here, now where is one of his books... :-)

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