"To trace something unknown back to something known is alleviating, soothing, gratifying and gives moreover a feeling of power. Danger, disquiet, anxiety attends the unknown - the first instinct is to eliminate these distressing states. First principle: any explanation is better than none."
Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Section 5
"And Adam said, this is now Bone of my Bones, and Flesh of my Flesh: She shall be called Woman, because She was taken out of Man."
A diary entry, on a torn page:
"With the return to this city of Eve there once again falls, from some realms I can't seem to recognize, the motivation to write, to record my impressions. It seems to me that I have, now, a reserve of memories that deserve to be set aside and written down. Shall I record them so that I can forget them? These recollections blend into day fascinations [reveries, Virginia Woolfe transfixed by her reflection, epiphanies], fantasies, dream images, memories that may or may not be realistic - that is to say, taken from reality. From my walks in the last two years, or the night walks of the time before I met Y, when I was filled with nothing else but a dead mystery, a sourceless [in that I could not consciously pinpoint the source, but it must have existed] passion for recognition and identification in the atmosphere(s) that surrounded me, walking the streets and dark alleys and wishing fervently, ardently, as deeply as possible, for something to possess, a firm reality, someone to talk to, someone to understand my innermost desires…"
Such a pattern of clichés, it is embarrassing! And yet he didn't seem to mind. One should be generous to one's self and not give in to clichés, even in private.
It sounds trite, common, presumed, almost verbose beneath the driving whip of subterfuge. Do we ever want someone to understand us completely? With complete understanding would probably come an abstract [and later total] contempt. Probably? We hate the human in ourselves and thus hate the same in others, when we finally capture it. How much of "getting to know" someone is only a subtle probing for weaknesses? Others - the other, which is to say all - seem to only be curious about [and thus passionate about] what they can not completely grasp and feel contempt for. How much of respect is just fear? That's an interesting sideline: the urge for knowledge [and thus mastery, and power] beneath any other passion. Shades of Nietzsche and Adler, but who cares at this point?
I could not rinse the scent of Nietzsche out of my hair and skin if I wanted to. We have been sharing the same house for fifteen years. Brother, father, lover...
Did I want someone to completely understand me? What does that really mean anyway? How do we "understand" each other? Did I want this because I eventually wanted someone to feel contempt for me? Did I use this to control my own ego? To punish myself? Is it an agent of my conscience?
The only person, or thing, that I would let close enough to me to completely "understand" me [i.e., gain an awareness of my dominant motivations, my fears, and the source of them, or at least what I projected as being the source of them - even though I say I couldn't place that basis] would be some kind of holy divinity, that while omnipotent in the abstract, would be absolutely powerless and unable to harm me. A nice form of omnipotence, isn't it? Christ still on his cross, unable to move his arms. A crippled god, a handicapped divinity. Either this or an emissary, someone I could convince myself was an angel, a heavenly messenger, a person reduced to the status of an object, and labeled either "bad" or "good", becoming a blessed vessel for my confessions. A white void I could empty myself into.
Yes, preferably an Eve without an identity of her own. A Y without a personality, without memories, without a past. Without ties to anyone else. A slave.
It's almost political, these kinds of power definitions, but it's an age-old maxim of personal liability or survival not to let those who have the power to hurt you [or limit your own power] anywhere close enough to you, to your heart, to your own weaknesses. A cut and thrust of wisdom as mature as mankind, right? "Love" so often seems at times to just be a temporary agreement between two people not to hurt each other. And yet…how quickly that first diamond covenant is broken, and how swiftly love becomes a source of pain…not just for the two involved, but for everyone around them. Love then appears as a sort of second bond to not to let any information out of the relationship that may be damaging to anyone involved. It's supposedly fine to hurt each other in private, viciously, but in public the image of a harmonious, helping, humanistic relationship must be maintained. "I agree not to damage you, if you agree not to use all the personal information that I will be granting you [secret codes, tactics, terrain maps of the heart, dreams, wishes, transgressions, confessions], through so many different methods and in so many different forms, against me."
What is it about this city, though, that I find so inspiring? Or what is it that makes me feel so inspired, even though I may not be in actuality? Where does this originate from, this type of intellectual/imaginative/artistic seduction? The air, the stillness of the night, the sounds of highways beyond the horizon, the reflections off the hills to the west? Are these all illusions? Can only illusions inspire the artist, the would-be master of all misapprehension?
What is it, exactly, to "be" inspired? Is it the creative urge feeding upon itself, because it can not find relief? Can it become self-destructive? Too much inspiration, in the case of this city, leads only to a sort of mindless "witnessing" or diary-keeping, event-tracking, chronicling, a Balzac or Zola meandering through yawning halls of "realism". Realism, at all times to me, means the breakdown and process of decay of imagination. Dust. When one can no longer go to one's own imagination for creation, seek the 'real' world [just another illusion, a shadow], that is: the lowest common denominator, abstracted, devolved, reduced to pettiness, of what comes to one's senses everyday, just through the minor motion of existing, of being alive. 'Realism' then has no real definition, and exists as a miasma that clouds the imagination.
The real goal is to pierce through all of these appearances, all of these definitions. The ambition is to go beyond language.
And still I carry the stigmata, and the sounds of Y [mostly her laughter, and the calm, even tone of her conversation] inside of me, they awaken at times and it is all I can do to shut my eyes and try to drown out their cries…
For the tribute of this city and for the memories of my past, I would like to begin [and possibly finish, but beginning is the most important act] a beautiful story, one that is supremely evocative and atmospheric, about a man, or boy, who watches the skyline of this town from a bedroom window, every night, and dreams about walking into the world, and what he will discover there. It seems too formulaic to make his motivation the search for love, or purity, or virtue and vice, or one of the great graces such as these…but that is what inspired me, supposedly, when I was that man, looking out over the world, and trying to find a way in. I must write what I know about, right? The problem is that my life has changed so much that I can almost forget, if I try, what it was like back then, even though the emotions and memories of that time return to haunt me, as whispers on the edge of sleep which I can never really hear, or understand. What are they trying to say to me? In order to forget I would have to stop sleeping.
Would it be better for me to forget completely? When is it ever better to forget something? Only when the circumstance is "tragic"? Define "tragedy", and then show me how anyone ever moves past such things. I don't know if it's ever "good" to forget anything, or if it's even possible. It's surely not possible for me. With sadness and heartache in one's recent or rehearsed memory, it seems to me that one would "appreciate" whatever one has that much deeper. Yet that is just a shallow cliché. Another one, again, another way in which the concepts of The Other are unable to encapsulate and lend meaning to the experiences of The Particular.
The World can still not grasp me, and I can not manipulate It.
There are many things I wish I could forget, let me be honest. Or to put it another way: many thing I wish I could go back and change. I am too tired here to demarcate/delineate the grave links between regret and forgetfulness that this entails, but they should be obvious.
Robert, 31, engineer, crackling through his cell static that morning as he managed the beltway traffic:
"I have been an eager researcher into their psychology of self-effacement, I tell you this in all honesty. I have discovered its minutiae, its signs, its meanings. I have tasted the life of a double, allied to no one realm of being, passing almost effortlessly between two separate and distinct lives or realities. I started this in order to understand, but now their illicit passion of secrecy and betrayal holds me. I have joined mindsets with the leagues of a "perverse" treachery, thrilled demonically at the most subtle and personal of pleasures: the twist of the knife in her heart, and the descent into an unquestioning subjectivity. My mind now…"
"But are you seeing other women?" I interrupted him.
"I…don't even know how to answer that question. That's just so…19th century." He sighed.
"Yes. Of course. Sorry."
"In any case, my mind now dictates all currents of my reality, and I no longer listen with rapt attention and open ears to the oppressive particulars of experience. Between madness, almost congenital, and total abandon in objective 'reality' (is that just another form of madness?) I chose the selective identification…"
"No, pay attention please! This is very important to me. I chose the…selective identification and construction of a subjective view of the actions that transpire before me. I divorced myself completely from morality, and from accountability. How can anyone say that I was responsible for what happened in front of me, things that I had only witnessed? Suddenly every particle of fate's workings was open to me, split open on an autopsy table, and I reveled in the witnessing of a reverse of Providence, a dark hand interweaving the forces available to it and bringing to fruition the horror and mindless actions of the everyday, the "normal" that people walk inside every moment."
"Well, I've always felt that too."
"It goes beyond feeling. If Life had a meaning at all, you see, it was one I could only barely glimpse the workings of - the structures and underpinnings of a shadow world where I could not descend farther, and so had to accept what I could see at that level, the depths to which I had penetrated. I did not have the ability to lose that much of my sanity and still function in a way that would be effective for me…you can see my dilemma."
"Not being intelligent or sensitive enough to discern the motivations that keep you from murder and suicide?"
The noise of the traffic drowned out his reply.
Now that the dreams have subsided, seeping away in the damp air of darkness back to their maligned Spring or progressing through the still hours to further infect and curse, I can no longer deny their sinuous and seductive portents or the ways in which they have changed me. Behind the prosaic, what I have identified - with a smug self-assurance - as the commonplace, the voice and vision of the rabble, I now glimpse with a sight purified [which is not to say "democratized"] the whispering transmutation of matter. It calls to me, and lends confidence to an awakening faculty, deep within me, of intuitive perception and recognition. I proceed through the burning Texas sunlight with a slanted logic, second-guessing myself at every turn, and knowing, now, that the processes built into my psyche for the allocation and dispersion of Truth [soul-awakening, desire-quenching Reality] are only personal and minutely individual at best.
I must acclimate myself to murder.
Why search tirelessly for the unbiased, the dispassionate? And why the innate structure of affirmation, where newly-located synapses of an "ideal philosophy" will settle cleanly into place in order to extend and determine my questioning? Each query lends itself to open a realm of further possibilities, and the ground begins to give way - forcing one to take flight.
The visual sense is veiled, I know that now. Berkeley's chamber of horrors, his Pandora's box and darkly bewitching oneiromancy, can not be closed now. Out of sight - out of mind? The strictures of the mundane now have no power to convince me of their inherent usefulness.
At night when the light no longer lends credence to solid familiarity, and my mind roves at leisure through the distracted thoughts of the day, a longing for objective Truth comes to call, whispering, again, inside and throughout my consciousness…some would call it God, I call it a weakness of the Flesh.
Sarah, 27, single child, who speaks just like her husband, leaned over in a restaurant and whispered to me:
"My once-energetic thrift of willpower is now faded, in ashes, and I am unable to summon the inspiration necessary to escape their plotting. The world is closing in around me as I say this to you…their calls seem closer, my excuses and dodges no longer efficacious, my lies callous and tired. I no longer even believe them. There is a conspiracy of erasure deep inside, as if my own body cried out for the knife, his blade, and did its best to obscure my mind, my own thinking. Its pleasures entrance me, even now, I can not escape their urge and persistent desire, their echoing hunger. I am losing focus…I sometimes find myself craving death."
I must learn to accept murder.
I must learn to love it, as I loved her.U. Amtey
19 September 2003