Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Will it?

All this thinking about free will somehow made me recall this passage from Ian McEwan’s “Atonement”:

“She raised one hand and flexed its fingers and wondered, as she had sometimes before, how this thing, this machine for gripping, this fleshy spider on the end of her arm, came to be hers, entirely at her command. Or did it have some little life of its own? She bent her finger and straightened it. The mystery was in the instant before it moved, the dividing moment between moving and not moving,when her intention took effect. It was like a wave breaking. If she could only find herself at the crest, she thought, she might find the secret of herself, that part of her that was really in charge. She brought her forefinger closer to face and stared at it, urging it to move. It remained still because she was pretending, she was not entirely serious, and because willing it to move, or being about to move it, was not the same as actually moving it. And when she did crook it finally, the action seemed to start in the finger itself, not in some part of her mind. When did it know to move, when did she know to move it? There was no catching herself out. It was either-or. There was no stitching, no seam, and yet she knew that behind the smooth continuous fabric was the real self – was it her soul? – which took the decision to cease pretending, and gave the final command.”

Sorry it was a long quote – but I really like it.

Somehow it was reassuring to think that McEwan could conceive of people like me that spent our childhoods playing with the will and wondering when it kicked in and who was in charge.

Not that I spent all my time trying to trick myself into dropping pens before I willed it… or anything…


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2 thoughts on “Will it?

  1. It is always interesting to me that you think about things in the vague part of your mind, it’s there but in the hazy clouds of your brain until you find its expression elsewhere like in the quote. The it hits you like a rocket, “Hey, I thought that too”. I know that when I was younger I thought about the finger moving and the almost disconnect between the finger moving and your brain talking to the finger.

  2. This is why I love literature within the ethical process!! Nice post!

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