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The Storm of Thought


There is a storm coming, my father reports this morning over coffee. True enough I woke up to faint raindrops on my bedroom window and to an otherwise dry and grey Saturday morning; perfect for staying in a bed that I have missed and misused recently. Today is going to be a lazy day--so I declared and got up at seven.

I have a complicated relationship with the weather--particularly with the rain. I'm one of the few who enjoy rain; and though I do particularly hate how I look when I am soaked (especially, for example, when I go to class with muddy shoes), I do love the idea of being unprepared for an immediate gush of water which my golf umbrella cannot negotiate with (especially, for example, when by some unusual instance the rain goes sideways, having to make you prioritize whether to protect your head or your body). I also enjoy driving in the rain--because all the rest slow down, and though it spells slower traffic at least I have something to watch (pedestrians and their awkward umbrellas, cars passing through deep puddles of water splashing on those pedestrians, and traffic enforcers revealing their humanity by wearing ugly raincoats or retreating to the nearest watershed). Even the sound of rain interests me; I find it unfair that the sun delivers us only warmth without accompanying audio; at least the rain and its angered clouds also sends heralds in claps of thunder, warning us; and more importantly, the raindrops ease audibly what could be an otherwise confining situation where you have to stay indoors or remain trapped under cover--like piped in music which you can listen or just as easily ignore.

The rain distracts me. It shows me that there is an unreal world outside me, that there is a world beyond me. Objects never intrude my space; so do other people if I do not allow them. But the rain--never mind yet storms and floods, cyclones and hurricanes, the destruction and death they may bring--the rain does not choose who it wants to trouble (the prim and proper young lady in high heels, the vulturous policeman, the professor who is always ready with an umbrella who at least finds it amusing every now and then how others did not have the same great foresight he has).

But--what is rain really? Nothing, just wind and water, nature's way of renewing itself, cleaning itself, the sky giving back what it owed the earth. The rain fails to amaze anyone anymore: however it may trouble us, change our plans (day trips to the beach, walks in the city, etc.) give us the occasional colds, it fails to surprise us thanks to the warning of darkened skies or the forecast of the weather sciences.

That it comes when everybody knows when it is coming: perhaps the rain does not mind this. Because it still knows that no matter how many wet days we have seen, it knows that it can still have the ability to impress--the subtle-minded at least. Like thought which changes nothing or changes everything.

The philosopher Martin Heidegger likened thinking to being in the middle of a storm. Like firemen who rush toward the fire when everyone else runs away from it, thinkers station themselves in the vortex of a hurricane. Those who retreat to the cool solace of writing, Heidegger says, instead of remaining in the storm of thinking are like those who look for the nearest shed and avoid the experience of the storm as storm. It is always easy to retreat: the written page saves you from forgetfulness and affords you some hope of understanding and thereby immortality. But the point was to stand in the lighting of thinking: watch it, catch it, even get hit by it. To remain in the storm, however, means not only do you endanger your life but also take a chance on being forgotten. He who thinks alone--and one cannot but think alone--without saying it or saving it, or without writing it, risks beings lost to forgetfulness--merely another nameless casualty of a storm that came too early or too strong to escape from. One such thinker was Socrates who did not write anything. Heidegger called him "purest thinker" of the West.



  1. i'm among those who're not very fond of an inclement weather. rain depresses me, but when i read this entry, it made me see rain in a new light... and i thank you for that (=


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