Tag Archives: writers

Hide And Seek Truth

Jean Baudrillard, in Please Follow Me, sees a familiar game in a new light.

“Consider one of life’s original situations: that of a hide and seek game. What a thrill to be hidden while someone’s looking for you, what a delightful fright to be found, but what a panic when, because you are too well hidden, the others give up looking for you after a while and leave. If you hide too well, the others forget you. You are forced to come out on your own when they don’t want you anymore. That is hard to take. It’s like turning too fine a phrase, so subtle that you are reduced to explaining it. Nothing is sadder than having to beg for existence and returning naked among the others. Therefore, it’s better not to know how to play too well; it’s better to know how to let others unmask you and to endure the rule of the game. Not too fast, not too late.” (p. 85)

When I was a child, an angry boy masquerading as my best friend bullied and abused me when nobody was looking. For example, after defeating me in a game of basketball, he’d hold me down and call me his bitch. Things only got worse from there.

I learned that it is safer to not play at all—to stay inside and curse the game, resent the players, refuse to participate.

I can’t say if trauma caused my depression, but it certainly didn’t help matters. Whatever its origins, depression is my default state, and my body won’t let me forget it. I’m tired all the time and spend hours in bed, hiding in plain sight.

Still, there’s more to my distress than meets the eye. When life is but a dream, a six-hour nap is an act of defiance, and I won’t let my family forget it. I play dead for (negative) attention. The sick role suits me (un)well.

Before new people in my life figure out I suffer from depression and anxiety, I end up telling them (by putting myself down or cancelling plans at the last minute) that things “aren’t right” with me. The thought goes: I’m going to fuck things up anyway; I might as well get it over with.

Therefore—playing on Baudrillard’s words—it is better to unmask myself, on my own terms, before others expose me and deem me unlovable.

Take off one mask, and three more appear. In college I wore myself out trying to be the perfect student, the perfect employee, the perfect perfectionist. I gained recognition for my academic achievements but needed others to verify my self-worth. If everyone liked me, then no one would hurt me.

Today I seek validation by composing (and obsessively editing) obscure blog posts that I hope family, friends and digital strangers will find profound. I cite sad philosophers and wounded romantics to demonstrate, poetically, the complexities of living with my depression. And then I write obscure blogs about writing obscure blogs to sound intelligent.

Layers folding into layers, thoughts unfolding into thoughts: my blog is a revelation hiding in plain sight. Under the guise of a wise soul, I use words to cultivate an (in)active being-towards death. As a philosopher, I always assume the fatal position.

The chaplain at my mental health clinic told me that everyone needs human connection, but trauma survivors whose trust has been broken need connection even more. Yet out of shame they hide from the world, and no amount of love or support from other people can save them. Survivors must learn to love themselves again.

But hope isn’t easy. Despite the power of positive thinking, it’s hard to flip the script when your reality is inverted. Somersaulting your way through the world is bound to cause vertigo.

In the mind of a child grown up too soon, youth is a weapon. Innocence is self-defense.

An early violation breaks more than the rules.

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Filed under Life, Meta-Blog, Philosophy

blog off

I have nothing to say
Nothing     to         say  I      have
To             sayI                have     nothing
Have             nothing        I            to    say
To have           nothing        I say
Nothing   Ihavetosay
Say     nothing I        have                    to
Have I                nothing to            say
To nothing               I   have              say
Nothing to say I          have
I       have   tosay         nothing
I say to have nothing
Nothing          to have           I      say
To           have nothing               I         say
Have       nothing    I say       to
Have                  I             to         say           nothing
Nothing speaks to me

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Filed under Meta-Blog, Poetry

Keats #2

(More) Negative Capability

My imagination is a monastery and I am its monk.
—Keats

My face is a mirror
And I am its gaze

My finger is a prick
And I am its tip

My lust is a mistress
And I am its boob

My rear is a bum
And I am its couch

My beard is a garden
And I am its gnome

My faith is a habit
And I am its nun

My fear is a mountain
And I am its cliff

My will is a fortune
And I am its heir

My ego is a lion
And I am its pride

My voice is a note
And I am its tone

My wit is a parent
And I am its kid

My life is a ripple
And I am its wake

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Filed under Poetry

Whisper (Revised)

Above a Whisper

I walk on blades
Of grass around
My father’s grave

Avoiding sunken
Markers careful not
To wake the dead

I want to share news
About a great job
My own place to live

The love of a woman
Who finds me
Worthy of affection

But none of this
Has happened
And it’s getting late

I tell him about
Another mild
Chicago winter

And Vegas picking
The Cubs to win
The World Series

My voice breaks
Like mist
Above a whisper

As birds fly in V-formation
Over headstones
Fixed in solemn rows

***

Above a Whisper (Nervous Lethargy Version)

I walk on blades
Of grass around
My father’s grave

Avoiding sunken
Markers careful not
To wake the dead

I’d like to share news
About a great job
My own place to live

The love of a woman
Who finds me
Worthy of affection

But none of this
Has happened
And it’s getting late

I tell him about
Another mild
Chicago winter

And Vegas picking
The Cubs to win
The World Series

It sounds like I’m
Talking to myself
Above a whisper

As birds fly in V formation
Over headstones
Fixed in solemn rows

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Lake Arlington Larry (Revised)

Ode: Lake Arlington Larry

Here’s to a gentle man
Smiling at suburban strangers
Walking running rollerblading around
Lake Arlington on a Thursday in June

Here’s to a gentle man
With baseball cap crimson hippie hair
An earth-conscious soul and repeat recycler
Sifting through trash cans for plastic gold

Here’s to a gentle man
Drafting mental blueprints
For the New Human Reality
While mothers stretch their legs in yoga pants

Here’s to a gentle man
A stream-of-thought poet
Syncing his watch to the pulse
Of the giant timepiece in the sky

Here’s to a gentle man
Who calls himself Larry and waves
Like a child as if we met eons ago
On different paths to the same eternity

***

Ode: Lake Arlington Larry (Nervous Lethargy Version)

You smiling at suburban strangers
Walking running rollerblading around
Lake Arlington on a Thursday in June

You with baseball cap crimson hippie hair
An earth-conscious soul and repeat recycler
Sifting through trash cans for plastic gold

You the sweaty exercise guru drawing up
Mental blueprints for the New Human Reality
While mothers stretch their legs in yoga pants

You the shirtless Poet of the Moment
Syncing your wristwatch to the pulse
Of the giant timepiece in the sky

You who said today, Hi I’m Larry,
As if we’d met eons ago on
Different paths to the same eternity

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Filed under Poetry

Prophet Margins

The Poet is wired
Subconsciously

artificial-synapse

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Filed under Philosophy, Poetry

Silent Prayer

After writing two books—the first on philosophy, the second a collection of poetry—I see my writing in a new light. I am a better philosopher than a poet, and this is fine because I write always with the spirit of a poet. Blogs, emails, research papers. Even grocery lists.

I’m writing this now because I want to say what I truly am: a reader.

Recently my mother and I visited my father’s grave. She brought a book of prayers that bring her comfort and insisted I read one out loud, and I did because we both needed to hear it.

Afterwards my mother paused and turned to me. “You have always been a great reader, even as a child.” I took her at her word and said a silent prayer. Later I read a little Baudrillard and thought of this blog and the books I have written and the things I still want to say.

Have I ever written a word without reading it to myself first? Am I not my ideal reader?

A great writer is a patient reader who knows when to pause and see the world anew—not as it appears, but how it might have been, or how it will never come to be. A great writer erases him- or herself from the world word by word, offering a different version of events in which he or she has already disappeared, or never arrived.

Socrates, as envisioned by Plato, said philosophy is a preparation for death. Socrates wrote nothing down. He couldn’t see for himself that writing, too, is a preparation for death—that writing about the departed brings us closer to death.

Two interpretations among many: I went to read a prayer in a cemetery, but there was no sign of my father. Or it wasn’t clear I had read a prayer in a cemetery until I blogged about it here. All that remains of my father is a sign.

Until I die I will write, but not before reading every word back to myself—not to ensure clarity, but to suspend meaning, to render the world more enigmatic for those I’ll leave behind.

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Filed under Life, Philosophy, Poetry