Thursday, October 30, 2008

Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Rene Magritte, The Human Condition

Is it possible to plagiarize yourself? If so, we’re probably doing it constantly. I know I am...imitating myself, as well as being highly critical of what are often shoddy, dissolute, unconvincing performances. I am not, I’m afraid, anything like my own Tina Fey. Then, isn’t much of life little more than bad acting? And isn’t that understandable, with such nonsensical scripts? Like Liam Neeson playing a Jedi knight with a mullet more appropriate for a monster truck rally than inter-galactic combat, aren’t we simply working with what we’re given? People talk a lot about the importance of being yourself—from Poloniusto thine own self be true to Mr. Rogers’ you’re special! to Monty Python’s “You’re all individuals!” “Yes! We’re all individuals!” to those lame-ass red and white Be You t-shirts for sale at the Boston University bookstore when I went, whoever the hell you are, it’s obviously pretty damn important. I will not speak lightly of it. Trust me.

I accept chaos. I am not sure whether it accepts me. I know some people are terrified of the bomb. But then some people are terrified to be seen carrying a modern screen magazine. Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most.
Bob Dylan

A sudden death in the family is upsetting for lots of reasons, of course—a lot more than I’m about to go into here, and, anyway, to communicate any fraction of them effectively would be to tell the complete life stories of all involved, and even then there’d be countless unfillable holes in the plot...the conclusion in particular not making one lick of discernible if Moby Dick had ended while they were right in the midst of chasing the whale, or the closing credits started running on Gilligan’s Island while it still seemed like they might get off the island this week....All in all, it’s difficult to shake the idea that life isn’t a novel or sitcom, or anything else that might have any chance of obeying the narrative rules we try so hard to lay down....There are a lot of ends, but few satisfying conclusions, and more perfect comebacks are spoken in a single Oscar Wilde play than you’re likely to manage in your entire life....


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think I follow you perfectly. Others I wonder what the heck you are on about. Today I don't what the hell all of that meant and I'm admitting it. You're just too deep for me to fathom and I hear the sound of the dinner bell.
Hugs, TT

Anonymous said...

I got a quote for ya...

Every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way, and never again.
- Herman Hesse

Now, you can take the above in a number of ways... the whole 'me first' brigade will assume this quote validates their point of view.

From a jyotish (vedic astrology) perspective, its also incredibly accurate.

But if you consider the impermanence of it all... why sure we're unique, for the blink of an eye in universe-time. So being unique doesn't make us 'special' in such a way that we should build a temple to the cult of Personality.

Janet said...

"I accept chaos. I am not sure it accepts me." Beautiful! I have a teacher who is constantly exhorting people to "practice reality", as opposed to staying in the story. It's pretty hard to do.

Thanks for the great post.

Lydia said...

"There are a lot of ends, but few satisfying conclusions...."
Now that is a great quote. The truth of it becomes more stark with each passing year of life.
If it's so damn important to be yourself what's with Halloween, and is it the one day in the year when wearing a "Be You" t-shirt would be inexcusable? If you wore my "Be You" t- and I wore your "Be You" t-, would we then be in costume?

Dave King said...

I think we imitate one of our selfs. I very much believe in the saying that there are more ways of living your life than can be lived by one person living one life. We choose - if only by default, one - sometimes more than one, but one at a time - from the options. So yes, we do plagiarize ourselves.
A good post.

Doson said...

Yes... 'silence terrifies people the most.'

Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appera.. "Hope u r not in the car or some thing..."

Anonymous said...

I think a lot about life having a narrative... only, the way I see it, we're our own storytellers.

So, personally, I make my own story be one with a good structure, where there's some coherence and some themes that carry through from chapter to chapter. Some nuance and some underlying mirth.

I have found that I can take the raw material of my days (and I've been around a fair share of death and heartbreak in my 53 years) and shape it into whatever kind of story I decide to.

Not that I mean to suggest here anything about your experience of losing a family member. Or about the emotional loose ends that you feel. I want to send you a salute, an acknowledgement of the intensity of sudden death.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, by the way...
... I'm still absurdly pleased by the phenomenon of having anyone out there read what I write!


Anonymous said...

If life were a novel, I'd be trying to figure out who my narrator is. And if life were a sitcom, it'd be cancelled by week six, leaving me wondering if those voices in my head come from someone else's laugh track. I prefer to think of it as a big, messy canvas with the surface paint covering a masterpiece.

Lisa Nanette Allender said...

Just wanted to let you know, this piece resonated with me.
I'm sorry you are suffering a loss of someone in your family.
I have faced loss too, and it is always so hard. You have captured that sense of hollow ringing in one's head--the buzzes that echo, again and again. Usually, those buzzes are not "static", but the voice of the one we've lost, trying to filter through, I think, trying to give us comfort.

Lisa Nanette Allender said...

I meant to add...a "sudden" death is particularly exhausting emotionally.

Christine Vyrnon said...

I'm more or less cosigning what lisa said.