Doris Lessing on Subjectivity

by suu4leaf

At last I understood that the way over, or through this dilemma, the unease at writing about ‘petty personal problems’ was to recognize that nothing is personal, in the sense that it is uniquely one’s own. Writing about oneself, one is writing about others, since your problems, pains, pleasures, emotions – and your extraordinary and remarkable ideas – can’t be yours alone. The way to deal with the problem of ‘subjectivity’, that shocking business of being preoccupied with the tiny individual who is at the same time caught up in such an explosion of terrible and marvellous possibilities, is to see his as a microcosm and in this way to break through the personal, the subjective, making the personal general, as indeed life always does, transforming a private experience – or so you think of it when still a child, ‘I am falling in love’, ‘I am feeling this or that emotion, or thinking that or the other thought’ – into something much larger: growing up is after all only the understanding that one’s unique and incredible experience is what everyone shares.

—- Doris Lessing, Preface to The Golden Notebook

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