Month: January 2013

Thoughts (one)

I don’t truly understand what she sees in me, though I often have an idea; irreducibly faint at times, blatant and coherent at others; but on the whole, in entire honesty, I don’t really know. This is nothing I pride myself on (this “sometimes knowing why she likes me”), because it’s easy enough to know how to please a loved one—at least, it has always seemed so to me. It has always been relatively facile to elicit favorable reactions from people around me: all it takes is the kind word, the sincere but surprisingly unutilized approach of honest, benevolent flattery. This is not an assessment of my more manipulative persuasions, but of the scrupulous ones. Once you understand how to become “nice”, how to align yourself with the archetype of the well-intentioned, it becomes an addiction; it’s a utilitarian approach, perhaps a little selfish too, but in every way pragmatic and, most importantly to me, fully functional. Being nice works, to put it aphoristically, albeit in no way with any connected originality. It’s not out of doe-eyed innocence that I do it (although it’s the cause for many adherents); rather I’m impelled by rational confidence. It’s the way of life I choose and I happen to think it best: it doesn’t flounder where hypocritical selectivity errs, and it isn’t quite as distasteful as ruthless, unremitting hostility. Perhaps that’s why she loves me. I don’t know.

But I know she is good for me – I’m certain of this. I know that I benefit from the unique vibrancy of being around her. I know that there’s happiness in surrounding her, in writing for her, in pleasing her. I worry that this dependency might be my undoing, that it might hurt me – hurt us – if things don’t go as we want. I wonder if love really is a gamble, and the phrase I’ve used for so long might actually have more truth to it than the shiny trinket’s worth I’ve espoused so long, that amusement generated in passing. Love is a gamble, and I’m betting on you. Maybe that really is the case, and in this gamble you risk forfeiting your happiness, but let’s not forget the reward: the sustained satisfaction of love. That’s worth placing the bet, isn’t it? I’ve already made the gamble anyway, now there is only hoping that I don’t find myself emotionally lacerated by its outcome. But this isn’t just a stoic, unemotional risk-assessment; I don’t think like this all the time, only sometimes (and evidently, when I do, I think they make for good writing). I don’t robotically calculate our chances, my chances—I don’t.

With her I lose myself in ecstatic, fulfilled giddiness. Making her laugh is a triumphant cataclysm of accomplishment every time, and I smile foolishly at every instance. Being around her is an act of frontier-assailing, and my every conquest is a violently assertive, self-proclaimed success; with those the degree of severity varies, but they are invariably impressive. I’m treading ground entirely new, and I like it. I’m biased towards myself, in that unavoidable manner only true mythical saints are truly devoid. If saints have ever existed, I’m certainly not of their ilk. I know I’m biased towards myself because I have to be, because I constantly recognize, if cynically, that I act in my favour even as I behave altruistically. Interestingly, it’s for this same reason that I love her. She’s good for me. I know what we have is worth preserving because it’s doing me good; I want to see where it leads, how this all turns out. I want more of this happiness and more of the ineffable excitement, and more of the sensations I’ve never experienced before (solipsist thinking, I know, but come on, this is a blog-post). I’m interested, and profoundly so.

This bird is worth feeding and nurturing; I enjoy its song.

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Learning

Learning frustrates me; more so, I think, than things that ostensibly should aggravate me. Learning cements it further in my mind that I’m an organism in merciless comparative anguish: inspection of past actions, beliefs, attitudes, and their juxtaposition with those I have at present, provide – at the risk of sounding egotistical – a clear paragon of reflective improvement. At least, to me it seems to be. I look back and my hitherto polished sensibilities – gracious things, they are – count my older self irredeemably in the ranks of cretins; I look at things with an eye much more refined now, they seem to think, and they have the knowledge, experience, and often addled but nevertheless productive rumination to back up the assertion. And I believe them, because it’s painfully obvious: younger, I was more naive. Less so now, though. And shouldn’t that make me happy? Improvement is good.

And it is, except that it doesn’t. If it has happened then it will again; it must, it’s not like at seventeen I’ve grown to spearhead the world’s echelons of the intellectual and erudite, nor is that anything less than laughably outrageous; it would take much more gargantuan an ego than mine to fall to that delusion, although I do make concessions to the gods of self-love, truncated though they may be by my insecurities. That’s another thing I’m not quite sure of: are my insecurities the reckless results of an ego I wish killed and gone? Or is my ego a development necessarily, thankfully, confining the impressions of my insecurities to manageable radiuses? Or are both just naturally present because they should? Either? Neither? Both?

I’m frustrated because, unrealistically and against my every scrupulous hint, I want to get there but do it now.  I want to the knowledge, the deft, discerning mind and impeccable comprehension of life and living; the erudition of the linguist, the consummate artistry of the seasoned fifty-something novelist, the prestige of the able and the gratification of the triumphant — all that good stuff! But I don’t want to wait to get them; I want them now. And that’s the stupid part, because only precious few ever get those, still less (or, like, no one ever) at this age. It frustrates me that I can’t, and that I can’t parse out the meaning of life for you in an elaborate but blindingly resonant aphorism, that I’m not choking the reigns of academic dissemination is an insouciant but unassailably firm grip, that I can’t write books that rival absolutely the literary offerings of the great and lauded. Zadie Smith wrote about this in an essay of hers. “But that’s fiction for you: it taunts you with the spectre of what you cannot do yourself.” She’s very good.

It frustrates me that such disparity exists between my (scrupulously assembled, promise!) idea of an ideal self and my current rendition, and that the person I am now, my best and irrevocably failed attempt, will seem my future self’s misguided, purblind imbecile. But credit him, he tries.

Writing

Writing isn’t a process of thought transference; that’s a vulgar, unscrupulous designation — one that doesn’t account for its other facets. Writing isn’t, either, a process of thought generation; that too is an incomplete conclusion. Writing is a process of thought espousal; of veritable self-reclamation from nebulous inconsistency, an act punctuated with shrill paroxysms of the sound of our functional, humane existence, and the excitement of inspired creation. Writing isn’t an outlet, it isn’t relief, it isn’t a process of discovery, isn’t the persecution of falsehood or the enshrinement of truth; it isn’t laborious, isn’t relaxing, isn’t magically wondrous or frighteningly powerful; it isn’t the vilification of debilitating enemies, or the endearment of even more debilitating loves; it isn’t the deflation of political bombast or the satirical exclamation of dissent; it isn’t the violent vehemence of obstinancy, or the lucid composition of logical opposition; it isn’t the divination of paradoxical truth in fictional seedbeds, or the protracted sighs of possessed poets; it isn’t the dishonesty of delusions of impossible grandeur, the outrageous inflation of ego, or the humility of understood vastness of knowledge; it isn’t the fantasies of aspiration or the daydreams of distant, alluring accomplishment; it isn’t the accessible encapsulation of humour, or the reckless dispensation of ridicule; it isn’t the tantalising pangs of reading a well-written piece, or the titillation of resulting envy; it isn’t the (ostensible or otherwise) insurmountable failure of inadequacy, or the inscrutable ecstasy of rare success; it isn’t the immediacy of passion, or the didactic coolness of pedagogical instruction; it isn’t the means to infamy, fame, immortality, irrevocable ostracism, death; it isn’t the singular assertion of life, either, and it certainly isn’t the parsing of its meaning.

It’s all of those. And a few more things, too.