Tag Archives: writing

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.

Advertisements

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

1 Comment

Filed under Poetry

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Paperback Editor #2

Yesterday I posted the revised version of the introduction to The Intimacy of Communication. Below I’ve done the same for the afterword.

After Words: Textual Innuendo (Revised 2017)

 “I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.”
—Roland Barthes

We are always after words, embedded in the fabric of language. There’s a mystery to things we can’t put a finger on, a sense of loss in every expression.

When I write I’m seeking your attention. I want you to see me as I see you, in the form of an extended seduction. It’s a quest for recognition without making a scene.

However we approach this book, it doesn’t belong to you or me. In fact it belongs to no one. I’m referring to the communal nature of language. We all use words without possessing them. There’s nothing I can say that you can’t say, because each of us has access to the same database of words. But some words I use, you might use differently, in a manner of speaking.

We’re free to appreciate or mimic another writer’s style. I quote Jean Baudrillard, or the English translations of his native French, throughout this book. He wrote eloquently about seduction, which encouraged me to do the same, invoking his spirit to support my evidence.

Throughout this process I feared the worst. Would words flow or stick in my throat? Was the whole idea good to begin with? At some point I had to plow through the doubt and embrace my project. At some point I had to let my mind go.

I’ve covered many topics in The Intimacy of Communication, but what I’ve intentionally and subconsciously left out haunts each line. Blind spots permeate the text. Subterfuge and misdirection abound. There’s no guarantee friends and family won’t find me out, but who’s to say I’m not hoping to get caught?

Perhaps I’ve revealed too much, but to pique your interest I had to show a little skin. In the end, my intentions here were far from innocent. I had a rendezvous in mind and urged you to come.

After Words: Textual Innuendo (Original 2016)

“I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.”
—Roland Barthes

We are always after words, embedded in the fabric of language. There’s a mystery to things we can’t put a finger on, a sense of loss in every expression.

When I write I’m seeking your attention. I want you to see me as I see you, in the form of an extended seduction. It’s a quest for recognition without making a scene.

However we approach this book, it doesn’t belong to you or me. In fact it belongs to no one.

I’m referring to the communal nature of language itself. We all use words without possessing them. There’s nothing I can say that you can’t say, because each of us has access to the same database of words. But each word I use you might use differently, in a manner of speaking.

We’re free to appreciate or mimic another writer’s style. I quote Baudrillard, or the English translations of his native French, throughout this book. He wrote eloquently about seduction, which encouraged me to do the same, invoking his spirit to support my evidence.

Throughout this process I feared the worst. Would words flow, or swell up in my throat? Was the whole idea good to begin with? At some point I had to plow through the doubt and embrace my project. At some point I had to let my mind go.

I’ve covered many topics in The Intimacy of Communication, but what I’ve intentionally and subconsciously left out haunts each line. Blind spots permeate the text. Subterfuge and misdirection abound. There’s no guarantee friends and family won’t find me out, but who’s to say I’m not hoping to get caught.

Perhaps I’ve revealed too much. Or maybe to pique your interest I had to show a little skin. Either way, my intentions here were far from innocent. I had a rendezvous in mind and urged you to come.

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophy

Paperback Editor #1

I published The Intimacy of Communication last year. As I read through the introduction recently, I found things I wanted to change or eliminate. Below you will find the revised version of the intro, followed by the original. A writer is never done with a book; he or she simply runs out of time.

Introduction: World Processor (Revised 2017)

I started a blog in 2008 called Writing Is Knowing. A year later it became Sharp Left Turns. My purpose has remained the same: to explore complex ideas with passion and wonder. The Intimacy of Communication, a collection of fifty-eight revised Sharp Left Turns posts organized thematically, is an extension of that mission.

The phrase “writing is knowing” comes from a composition theory course I took during my senior year at Elmhurst College. My professor argued that writing is not merely a matter of sharing information, but a vehicle for the creation of new ideas. Writing is a moral endeavor, an attempt to process the world.

I’ve developed several themes on my blog, including the notion of authentic communication. I define authentic communication as two or more people engaged in meaningful, fully present, device-free conversation. It involves empathy and mutual recognition that texting fails to provide.

How did my smartphone become an object of desire? When does anxiety at the thought of putting down my tablet constitute an attachment disorder?

Is there space for intimacy in a hyper-connected world?

French philosopher Jean Baudrillard wrote about the simulated nature of reality in our image-driven global society. We’ve mastered our environment through the magic of technology, but the efficiency of machines threatens to lull humanity to sleep. Later in his career Baudrillard sided with “the evil genie of the object” in an ironic quest to chart the demise of human agency. My favorite Baudrillard book, The Ecstasy of Communication, inspired the title of this book.

Baudrillard has provided intellectual refuge in my darkest moments. And there are many dark moments. I was diagnosed with depression twenty years ago, as a high school sophomore. Although some symptoms vary depending on my body’s reaction to stress, there’s a persistent fog in my eye, a twitch in my shadow when I’m perfectly still. The constant worrying, excessive guilt, debilitating self-doubt—my depression is a life-threatening illness. Even on my best days it dreams up new ways to bring me down.

Depression is a spiritual affliction. A dis-ease of the soul. Medication and therapy are part of a dynamic, lifelong healing process that also requires patience and surrendering control. Recovery is a moment-to-moment battle, and I commend survivors with wounds both seen and unseen for continuing to fight. I hope my story challenges misconceptions about mental illness and encourages others to speak their truths.

Can a blog support authentic communication? Can a book? Addressing subjects like psychology, politics and philosophy may sound like an esoteric exercise, but a contemplative approach to life has real-world implications. Attuned to the frequency of instant messages, we must consider our words carefully. Words mean more than we know. They break our bones like sticks and stones. But even at their most poetic, in the service of profound truths, words can’t account for love or kindness, or quantify the soul.

Introduction: World Processor (Original 2016)

“If anything, I’m a metaphysician, perhaps a moralist, but certainly not a sociologist.”
—Jean Baudrillard

I started a blog in 2008 called Writing is Knowing. A year later it became Sharp Left Turns. My purpose has remained the same: to explore complex ideas with passion and wonder. The Intimacy of Communication, a collection of fifty-eight revised Sharp Left Turns posts organized thematically, is an extension of that mission.

The phrase “writing is knowing” comes from a composition theory course I took during my senior year at Elmhurst College. My professor argued that writing is not merely a matter of sharing information, but a vehicle for the creation of new ideas. Writing is a moral endeavor, an attempt to process the world.

I’ve developed several themes on my blog, including the notion of authentic communication. I define authentic communication as two or more people engaged in meaningful, fully present, device-free conversation. It involves empathy and mutual recognition that texting fails to provide.

How did my smartphone become an object of desire? When does anxiety at the thought of putting down my tablet constitute an attachment disorder?

Is there space for intimacy in a hyper-connected world?

French philosopher Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) shared my concerns. He wrote about the simulated nature of reality in an image-driven global society. We’ve mastered our environment through the magic of technology, but the efficiency of machines threatens to lull humanity to sleep.

Later in his career Baudrillard sided with “the evil genie of the object” in an ironic quest to chart the demise of human agency. One of my favorite Baudrillard books, The Ecstasy of Communication, inspired the title of this book.

Baudrillard was brilliant, which is to say he was nuts. Trained as a sociologist, Baudrillard traversed multiple fields: philosophy, politics, psychology, literature, semiotics. He’s provided intellectual refuge in my darkest moments.

And there are many dark moments. I was diagnosed with depression over twenty years ago, as a high school sophomore. Although some symptoms vary depending on my body’s reaction to stress, there’s a persistent fog in my eye, a twitch in my shadow when I’m perfectly still. The constant worrying, excessive guilt, debilitating self-doubt—my depression is a life-threatening illness. Even on my best days, in the most serene or quiet moments, it’s dreaming up new ways to bring me down.

Depression is a spiritual affliction. A dis-ease of the soul. Medication and therapy are part of a dynamic, lifelong healing process that also requires patience and surrendering control. Recovery is a moment-to-moment battle, and I commend survivors with wounds both seen and unseen for continuing to fight. I hope my story helps break the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourages others to speak their truths.

Blogging helps me cope when I’m open about my struggles. New posts serve as preemptive strikes against future distress, and the act of sharing combats an impulse to isolate. This book ups the ante. It’s a challenge to be vulnerable in a different format.

Can a blog support authentic communication? Can a book? Addressing subjects like psychology, politics and philosophy may sound like an esoteric exercise, but a contemplative approach to life has real-world implications. Attuned to the frequency of instant messages, we must consider our words carefully. Words mean more than we imagine, and contrary to the old playground adage, they can hurt us more than sticks and stones. But even at their most poetic, in the service of profound truths, words can’t account for love or kindness, or quantify the soul.

1 Comment

Filed under Philosophy