My Struggle: Book 1

Our minds are flooded with places we have never been, yet still know, people we have never met, yet still know and in accordance with which we, to a considerable extent, live our lives. The feeling this gives that the world is small, tightly enclosed around itself, without openings to anywhere else, is almost incestuous, and although I knew this to be deeply untrue, since actually we know nothing about anything, still I could not escape it. The longing I always felt, which some days was so great it could hardly be controlled, had its source here. It was partly to relieve this feeling that I wrote, I wanted to open the world by writing, for myself, at the same time this is also what made me fail. The feeling that the future does not exist, that it is only more of the same, means that all utopias are meaningless. Literature has always been related to utopia, so when utopia loses meaning, so does literature. What I was trying to do, and perhaps what all writers try to do – what on earth do I know? – was to combat fiction with fiction. What I ought to do was affirm what existed, affirm the state of things as they are, in other words, revel in the world outside instead of searching for a way out, for in that way I would undoubtedly have a better life, but I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t, something had congealed inside me, a conviction was rooted inside me, and although it was essentialist, that is, outmoded and, furthermore, romantic, I could not get past it, for the simple reason that it had not only been thought but also experienced, in these sudden states of clear-sightedness that everyone must know, where for a few seconds you catch sight of another world from the one you were in only a moment earlier, where the world seems to step forward and show itself for a brief glimpse before reverting and leaving everything as before…

– Karl Ove Knausgaard

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