like, why bother?
February 23, 2017 § 2 Comments
i was watching Girls and wondering why it was so incestuous. was this not new york (noo yawk noo yawk…) where there were a thousand things and people a-foot a-live a-buzz a-vailable a-stir (ah-fuck it), only just waaaaiting to be met? why then was everyone always being pulled back into this tiny circle of tiny, tiny men. this stupid centripetality of sex and… something like love. love.
what is love? (baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me.. no mo)
actually that is not an interesting question. well maybe it is, but by far the more interesting one is – why bother? with anything, i mean, but especially the cultivation of love, because it is effort intensive and exhausting (the little prince is on the money with this). also my brain tends to joyblock me by asking inconvenient questions like – is this whole thing a scam for the fools? i am not a fool. show me the door to the other side, the real side*.
sooo friends, let us talk about what i feel** about love (or i will talk anyway, it’s still my blog) and – in gaiman-speak, its mirror image – loneliness.
* * *
what does it mean to say that one is lonely? is it that one is doomed to a lifetime of being incompletely understood? to always have language fall short of communication? to be paralysed by the idea that companionship is just a silly distraction in a solitary life?
and what should it mean when you meet someone who taps into your pipes anyway, but your loneliness rushes even deeper within you, seeking out other secret recesses to occupy? what does one do with such a persistent damp? how we are led astray by the wrong question – perhaps I should ask: what does such a loneliness do for us?
like an odd bird, my clever, unwise mind has consumed my days and spit the partially digested results out over, what, twenty years of staring questioningly at life (i have not seized the day exactly; standing diffidently next to it is more my speed). anyway, my mind says loneliness is life affirming; that it is a force in itself, not merely the lack of something. if it were only a lack, how could it resonate so much with life? tinggg-ing so often like a tuning fork, so many times a day? standing in a queue at the bank, eating dosai on the street, when it’s noisy at the beach, when it’s quiet in the night? ting tinggg tinggg tinggg tinggg. welcome, we are all alone here; aapke gairhaaziri mein bhi (aapke gairhaaziri mein hi) aapka swagat hai.
that is why nothing feels more alienating than being around people who neither experience nor cultivate loneliness. they can’t begin to imagine the weight of the uncertainties you’re willing to admit to them. as i see it, the experience of loneliness is a critical and necessary precedent to the experience of empathy and love.
having said which, what does it cost a body to carry a void, a lifetime’s worth of knowledge that other people will never be enough? the suspicion that all love is only a fearful clutching at straws? sometimes it feels like it costs too much. and still the hollowness within feels important to have – what else is there to remind us that none of us knows what the fuck we’re doing here? what is more unifying and human than a paralysing existentialist fog?
it seems to me that as long as one does not seek to self-medicate for loneliness, it can be a small but deep relief to have company in stumbling through the life fog.
the author therefore advises you all to suspend your various clever pessimisms just long enough to fall in love.
or, you know, whatever.
* while i am ambivalent on the subject of neil gaiman, i liked Coraline and deeply enjoy his fascination for the mirror image, also his commitment to scaring the wobbly bits off little children with these same ideas. if you want to follow this theme elsewhere, i also recommend Un Lun Dun by China Mieville.
**remember when i thought that i was too smart to live by feelings? o Ghost of My Past, i knew ye well, fool; truly a fellow of infinite jest. i now know a little bit more about brains, poor doomed bastards.