Telepathy. That’s the only superpower I’ve ever wanted (if you were ever wondering, God!)
How truly wonderful would it be to go beyond the shenanigans of language and communicate directly with fresh, raw thoughts…
Or so I believed, before I chanced upon Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse.
In 24 pages, Woolf had thoroughly convinced me of the complications that arise while inhabiting a stranger’s mind, in this case, a certain Mrs. Ramsay. The ‘Stream of Consciousness’ technique that the author so skillfully abides by and the outrageous number of commas in the narrative makes the prose more unintelligible than not. What fascinates and frightens me more is that Woolf might’ve purposely structured the book to create this effect. Mrs. Ramsay isn’t the most coordinated character to be introduced to Modern parchment, combining this with her fickle span of attention and the tempestuous procession of thoughts in her head, it is quite understandable for a reader to not be able to keep up. The lengthy sentences achieve Woolf’s intended target by confusing the readers and refusing proper comprehension of the protagonist’s personality. It serves the irony that even though the narration gives the reader a front row seat inside the character’s head, where every shred of the character’s contemplation, introspection, meditation and concentration are laid bare for the reader’s consideration, it is still quite difficult to know a person (and quite unbearable too). How silly and needless (and alarming) does the intention to invade the sanctuary of someone else’s mind seem now.
24 pages of delving into Mrs. Ramsay’s mind, or reading through the moment-by-moment experience of living has persuaded me to start wishing for another superpower. This literary dose of telepathy was plenty enough struggle for a lifetime.