Esolen: The Skin But Not the Soul

“Why are such early memories especially strong? People will say it is because the small child has nothing else to think about, and so everything he encounters will strike him as wondrous. Inadequate explanation. First, everything is indeed wondrous; the child sees things only as they are. But the things are filled with meaning, because they spring from a world of love. In a few months I would go to kindergarten, afternoons for the spring. I remember a red brick building, a blackboard, the name of the teacher, and nothing else – nothing except my mother waiting for me outside on that first day. I did not want to leave home. I have almost no memories of first grade or of second grade. I find that, outside of the freedom opened up by love, my mind is a blank. I know that things happened, but it is as if they happened to only a piece of me, or as if they struck the skin but not the soul. It is as if I had temporarily left the real world and was made to inhabit a simulacrum of the world, where I was not really myself but a simulacrum of myself.”

– Anthony Esolen, Life Under Compulsion (pp. 166-167)


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