The familiar

Cocker also writes that ‘a preoccupation with the exceptional is almost hardwired into the human imagination’. It’s become almost impossible to escape the lure of the exceptional. But perhaps the exceptional (the marketable) is becoming the least worthy of thought. Perhaps the mystery in the familiar is becoming the hardest thing to understand.

I grow too used to the world again. I make it commonplace, veil the day behind the everyday. I become a burden to myself, moving from bedroom to bathroom, from the bathroom to the kitchen, from the kitchen back to bed and my laptop. It’s raining.

Sometimes the nearest things, what we’re most used to, are the hardest to see: we see them too often to see them fresh. Too much home and home becomes oddly alien. I’m a body moving through the same rooms, the same fields, the same shops. No dramatic mountain peaks in this flatland. No vantage point from which to sweep your arm across the horizon and grasp it all.

What did I mean by the mystery in the familiar? (Already the phrase grows stale, kitschy.) Giacometti said, ‘The closer I come, the grander it is, the more remote it is.’ Rilke wrote of ‘what is simple in nature, the small things that hardly anyone sees and that can suddenly become huge, immeasurable’. Doesn’t being lurk most intimately in the things we move among every day – in the fact of their being here at all?

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