“At times I become my breathing. Such force of self as I retain focuses upon the faulty operations of my chest: the coughing, the fishy gulps. I am what breathes. I am what began long ago with an exhaled cry, what will conclude when a glass held to my lips remains clear. It is not thinking that makes us so, but air. Suspiro ergo sum. I sigh, therefore I am…
In the beginning and unto the end was and is the lung: divine afflatus, the baby’s first yowl, shaped air of speech, staccato gusts of laughter, exalted airs of song, happy lover’s groan, unhappy lover’s lament, miser’s whine, crone’s croak, illness’s stench, dying whisper, and beyond and beyond the airless, silent void. A sigh just isn’t a sigh. We inhale the world and breathe out meaning. While we can. While we can.”
A virtuoso passage pulled from chapter 4 of Salman Rushdie’s aptly-titled The Moor’s Last Sigh.
- An even more beautiful passage from Rushdie, this one about the power of song, pulled from his novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet
- Rushdie clearly illustrates a simple facet of the open society: in it, no one can claim the right to be immune from being offended
- I reflect on freedom, fiction, Cat Stevens, and the 25th anniversary of the Rushdie fatwa