Would you believe me if I said I don’t want to call attention to myself? It would seem impossible because I’m placing these private and somewhat personally unnerving words out there on Facebook, for one thing.
But personal attention makes me sick. And yet I couldn’t find you until I placed these things in some kind of public thoroughfare. I didn’t care if it was just a park bench. Someplace where you might happen along, allowing me to imagine you.
A park bench is almost perfect, but not quite believable enough, because I’m sure these words would be pecked to pieces by a passing pigeon or thrown up on by a drunk, before anyone real like you happened along.
And so I tried a publication like Counterpunch, fairly broad and relatively easy to access. But periodicals have a far too particular outlook, are too demanding in what they want from me. I’m not inclined to work at molding myself to anyone’s demands. I need a thoroughfare that is utterly open-ended and will not lead to any kind of fame, which would destroy my solitude or anonymity. But the thoroughfare still needs to be larger than a park bench in order to allow me to convincingly imagine you as a passing stranger with a mind as large as God’s.
So all these peculiar requirements has made it difficult to write.
Therefore I spent 30 years limiting myself to private correspondences or leaving things in a desk drawer to rot, and this was claustrophobic, although even then I couldn’t help shoving them now and then in a friend or family member’s face to avoid going mildly mad. And that didn’t work, I still went mildly mad like everyone else, because the small circle of unwilling readers didn’t generate an electric current connecting me to a larger world.
So I can’t speak only to people I know too personally or to myself, because then I only end up imagining what I already know. Such stagnant waters aren’t lively. In such a small circuitry there is not enough electric charge. I need to imagine a sympathetic mind that is far larger than my own, that can see what I mean and beyond what I mean.
In the same sense, an honest actor needs the limelight, not in order to become a famous move star, but in order to honestly see their character as others would see them. What actor in their right mind stays at home their entire life to act out plays for their own private amusement in front of a mirror? What comedian stays in their bedroom telling themselves jokes and laughing hysterically at themselves? Although it’s natural to assume that the actor or comedian wants to call attention to themselves or merely be famous, those are the fakers. In fact, it’s far more egotistic of an actor, musician or comedian to stay at home and amuse themselves. It takes courage and honesty to step outside yourself and engage the audience. And there would be no jolt of liveliness that intensifies the sincerity of the project if we remained private and falsely humble in that way.
So I needed to write in order to reach your wise and sympathetic ears, which electrifies and illuminates the potential that otherwise lies dormant, and feels like a stillborn life, or worse yet, a small, starving child (or god forbid maybe even an abandoned kitten, for I’m more attached to cats at present), who is locked in a room somewhere, lonely and stunted.
So see, from a certain angle, despite all this noise I’m making in the more or less public sphere, I’m not really calling attention to myself so much as trying to find a place with the smallest outlet into the world grid, and into which I can plug these words so that I can imagine you somewhere out there.
But I’m not looking for a personal connection. That’s not my motive I mean. The person I’m addressing has to remain anonymous, an open-ended potential. The impersonal friendship in this case is the deepest.
Also, given the fact that this voice is a kind of honest fiction, an illusion through which the communal mind is accessed, it’s not really “me” I’m calling attention to. It’s just a performance of sorts, so I can remain anonymous even while I speak.
Maybe I could summarize all this by saying it’s the imagination of a sympathetic ear that creates sympathy; and the imagination of honesty that lures an honest mentality into existence.
But the solitary act of imagination has to be realized, reified, by posting these things into the ether. After that, I don’t give a crap whether they generate interest or not. I just need to imagine that they do. Too much interest would be a distraction anyways.
Till now I’ve been ashamed to write because I hadn’t clarified for you (and you are my judge sometimes as well), why this isn’t essentially an egotistic or fame-seeking activity, but an attempt to release my caged spirit (my inner cat).
But I do believe in a real human intelligence receiving this, because I know a few who tend to read this. And I don’t want to conflate my imagination of them with the imagination of the more impersonal and universal sympathetic ear, because then this degrades into a narrower discussion about certain topics that have arisen between us, and I want this space to remain as wide open as possible.
I am trusting in my right brain, you might say, and merely trying to decipher and describe whatever it is I’m encountering in myself, which is the only honest thing I can do.
But I’m not doing this in order to be honest. It’s reverse. Dishonesty gets in the way of life and turns out to be nothing more than a fearful habit, an ancient cowering and hiding habit that presumably served us well when fleeing animal predators, but which leads into the maws of the inorganic predators, who want nothing more than to keep the human population subdued in fear, before they discover their potential.
Well, that’s the guess anyways.
But there’s something I can’t quite point to here. I’m not doing this in order to become honest or in order to affect some activist agenda. But when I write I lose the motive to hide from myself. I stop being motivated to deceive myself, because deception is hard work and leads towards a small and claustrophobic world.
But while I may write a kind of fictitious ear, you real readers merge with this ear at times, feeding my imagination, because it’s really a communal mind that we’re encountering together. Words are nature’s natural-born socialistic constructions. Every definition is communal or it has no meaning.
So it’s your actual sympathetic ears I value (which is not the same as agreeable ears). These are not numbers of ears, but one single merged Ear through which an electric current of awareness is running, setting in motion a larger mind; as if something in this very idiosyncratic and bizarre activity of writing helps illuminate a rhythm or tone to your own presumably bizarre dance of learning, whatever it might be, and then vice versa.
But again, that’s not the motive. I’m not in search of people. I want to stay as solitary in this as possible.
But what I seem to be doing (and it’s only my guess, not my grand plan) is that I’m encountering a giant dead end in the way we look at ourselves and others; and this dead end appears to be the provocation of a new potential for humanity. You and I are discovering this on our own in different ways. It’s as if humanity is slowly pecking its way past an old and claustrophobic shell into a larger world. That’s where the electricity lies, in that shared world, not in the personal, which is too stagnant.
But what writing has done for me personally nevertheless is show that you exist, that there is some kind of dawning awareness between us of a new potential in human beings to stare down and walk past our own deceptions. It’s not like a political or religious movement, because there is no creed or agreed-upon goal or any desire to pin anything down as a certainty or to gather in groups, beyond the occasional dialogue group. But an interested mind is seeing itself in others and beginning to realize a shared potential.
I’ve already said I’m not motivated to help anyone, but only because motive is unnecessary. If you had a motive to be honest, a duplicity is created. The motive is ulterior.
So I’m not sociopathic about this, because I’m not indifferent to what happens to all of us, but nothing can really help at this point except facing ourselves without self-deception. And it’s easy to recognize the spirit of honesty when it emerges from its cocoon. It’s our shared emergence, and I hear it in so many other readers, but it’s not a movement, it’s not a call to arms. It’s an electric current, a shared intelligence, that went unnoticed in me until it was seen in you.
4 thoughts on “I See You Now”
Now I realize that after I’ve written something, then I tend to be motivated to share the essay as a help. But not when I’m writing. Also, if I lucked into a publication someday with a current of readers and writers who are in synch with these topics, I’d be happy. But I’m not wasting effort seeking that kind of thing anymore. My efforts were desultory and haphazard, but I’ve even given them up now. This essay is probably the biggest knot I’ve ever untangled for myself. This and the Predator essays maybe.
[…] what I’m really after in speaking of an imaginary “you” and “Me” is a rapport with these persistent thoughts of self and other, these imaginary beings that occupy […]
[…] made a big and interesting mistake in trying to ascertain who you are in the essay “I See You Now.” Even the title sounding threatening. But this is what Negative Geography was built to handle […]
[…] towards a different relationship to Me, one where I don’t kill the ego; and by default a new relationship to “you”, and how to relate to the imagination of self and other; and whether this changed relationship ( […]