Monday, May 9, 2011

The wisdom of Fish.

“Only mortal beings experience time as a shaping medium, which means that only mortal beings write, or need to write, sentences. Mortality is the condition of being able to die, regarded by many as a curse, but more properly appreciated as a gift, the gift of design and choice, of gain and loss, of hope and desperation, of failure and redemption, all modes of being that are available only to creatures who, like sentences (and novels), have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is the inevitability and shadow of death that provides life with a narrative arc, and provides moments in that narrative with a meaning; for the meaning of a moment–its distinctiveness–is a function of the place prepared for it by a past and the place waiting for it in a future that has (again, like a sentence) a terminal point. We say to ourselves, ‘Yes, this is where it was all leading’ or ‘This is the beginning of something that will, I hope, flower.’ Without the specter and period of death, there would be no urgency of accomplishment, no expectations to be realized or disappointed, no anxieties to be allayed. Each moment would bear an equal weight or weightlessness…Significance would not be in the process of emerging, sometimes clear, sometimes not; rather it would be evenly distributed and therefore not be significance–a concept that requires that some moments stand out–at all.”

– Stanley Fish, How to Write a Sentence