Experts are Puzzled

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Experts are puzzled by the legacy for the purpose of the handing down of which

we seem to exist successively and respectively. We seem to exist to correct, in

proper order, the minute derangements caused in the legacy of our existence.

We on whom it is temporarily bestowed find it strange and make it familiar and

then find ourselves strange. The legacy has been handed on and we are left behind,

strangers of a fixed old age. We stop here while the legacy passes on to the eternal

puzzlement of experts.

 

In this place it is impossible to move from this place. It is after hours. The taxis

wait outside the unfashionable houses of their drivers and cannot be hailed.

We are old, besides, and cannot walk, or do not wish to walk. We are poor, besides.

We are strangers, besides; we do not know the way, we do not speak the language.

Life is impossible. Therefore we do not live, but are yet alive. We are strangers of

a fixed old age and we are not puzzled.

 

Who are the experts? They are of the legacy, which is puzzled in its experts.

What is the legacy? It is the ever-young continuance of puzzlement, the refuse of

a fixed old age. We more and more establish its bewildered, expert familiarity with

itself for the purpose of establishing which we seem to exist and are left behind,

strangers of a fixed old age. For the purpose of being left behind we are left behind,

disinherited, thank God, and not puzzled.

 

At least, that is to say, I am a stranger of a fixed old age and I am not puzzled.

Ask me anything you like and I will give you a not-puzzled answer. I will not give

you an answer. I am a stranger. I do not live, I am only alive. I heard the birds with

lice under their wings singing, but I do not understand because I am not a bird with

lice under my wings singing. I am not an expert, I am not puzzled. I am a stranger.

If you are in search of information you must listen to your own young familiar voice

singing and scratch your own young familiar breast where it itches. I am only a poor

stranger of a fixed old age and not at all puzzled.

Laura Riding (1901-1991) was an American poet and critic.

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