How lovely it would’ve been to have lived in the real world! To enjoy things fully the way some people seem to. Family. Football. Days out. Art. I wouldn’t have had to look on at life as if from behind a window, with this weird, vast space always in the back of my head. I wouldn’t have had to think about being in the moment as if it were foreign to me. I imagine I’d have had a career, a wife and kids, a car, and coped easily with the same routines day after day. I see how other men go about it, watch them almost with the eyes of a child, learn from them cagily, but sometimes in my arrogance they seem like one big illusion, the enterprises of men – something really decayed, removed from what’s essential in life.

Kafka loved an anecdote about Flaubert in which the latter sees a family on a fun day out and remarks: Ils sont dans le vrai. But is it that simple?

We’re all of us masters at hiding from the truth, it’s deep in our nature. We hide from ourselves, from each other and from God. Things themselves seem to hide from us – that seems to be their nature too. They emerge and pass out of sight, appear and pass away, like animals in the forest. Real life, says Heidegger, happens when beings become ‘unhidden’, when we help bring things out of their hiding places and step out of our own along with them, into the light of being itself. It happens in rare moments when we see links between ‘beings themselves, the human world, the work of God.’ It can only occur, he says, when you’re disturbed by a sense that real life is elsewhere.

But real life is slipping away, isn’t it? You can almost feel it — soon it’ll be almost nowhere to be found. We’ll have covered the world with ourselves and taught our own technologies to think for us, to hide us for good.

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