Superstition (John Burnside)
superstition: [ME f. OF superstition or L superstitio (as super-, stare stat- stand)] 1 Credulity regarding the supernatural. 2 an irrational fear of the unknown or mysterious. 3 misdirected reverence – irrational, perhaps; though perhaps other than rational, the way intuition – once seen as a female attribute, because women were closer to nature and so less logically-minded than men – is other than rational – and fear? but of course: there is a god and, si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer – as sky-judge, or Son of Man, or some brand of textbook Logick, but always in the image of the faithful – and any other reverence is misdirected and inappropriately rooted in dread.
And yet, in spite of all that and as rational as I might seem, going about the day to day business of passing for normal, dutifully concealing the honey-dark, blood-sweet insanity of love and dreams and the imp of the perverse who is never very far away, I cannot quite shake off a near-incredulous, celebratory and not at all fearful sense of reverence for the quotidian facts of being, a sense that the world is full of grace and, at any moment, some angel of the annunciation might emerge, in a drift of pollen or camphor, to demand some appropriate – more than normal, other than rational – response to the marvellous – the marvellous, witnessed not in fear, but with sudden and awkward trust in the sense that, whenever we feel the impulse to say, “It’s nothing”, then it’s really something, trust that the “only” in a phrase like “it’s only the wind” is never entirely accurate: the trust that comes when I walk out into the dark, with that same wind blowing through my face, to find what is really there: a nothing, perhaps, but never an only, a physical, surface-of-the-skin and root-of-the-mind trust not just that le néant hante l’être, but also that our usual, ploddingly rational notions of l’être and le néant are entirely provisional, and far less accurate than we imagine.
Pour citer cette ressource :
John Burnside, "Superstition (John Burnside)", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), juillet 2014. Consulté le 11/12/2023. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/litterature/entretiens-et-textes-inedits/superstition-john-burnside-