These Disparate Pieces

“What were all those hours and years of reading and thinking? What had they done for him? He no more knew all the books he’d taken in than the water knows its flotsam, yet like that water he was thick and sluggish with it. He longed to be free of all that he once longed for, and began to imagine that there might come such a scouring (from where? with what?) that he might be, not wiped clean of what he’d learned so imperfectly, but emergent and changed on the other side of it. Not a purge, a passage. Then all these disparate pieces might cohere in him, cohere as him. The great irony, of course, the truth that came as all truths came to him now–too near to escape, too faint to savour–is that it was art that instilled in him this ideal of unity and clarity in the first place.”

Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss

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