Purity

Johnathan Franzen

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4 Fragments (saved in 2017)

I’m starting to think paradise isn’t eternal contentment. It’s more like there’s something eternal about feeling contented. There’s no such thing as eternal life, because you’re never going to outrun time, but you can still escape time if you’re contented, because then time doesn’t matter.

There's the imperative to keep secrets, and the imperative to have them known. How do you know that you're a person, distinct from other people? By keeping certain things to yourself. You guard them inside you, because, if you don't, there's no distinction between inside and outside. Secrets are the way you know you even have an inside. A radical exhibitionist is a person who has forfeited his identity. But identity in a vacuum is also meaningless. Sooner or later, the inside of you needs a witness. Otherwise you're just a cow, a cat, a stone, a thing in the world, trapped in your thingness. To have an identity, you have to believe that other identities equally exist. You need closeness with other people. And how is closeness built? By sharing secrets. . . . Your identity exists at the intersection of these lines of trust.

I’m telling you that I will be all right without you. Everything we have is temporary, the joy, the suffering, everything. I had the joy of experiencing your goodness for a very long time. It was enough. I have no right to ask for more.

Filtering isn’t phoniness—it’s civilization.