Saturday, October 26, 2019

Scattered Thoughts

     Not every day produces an essay. Some are made for reflections of other varieties and lengths.

     I've written about the nature of identity on other occasions. When the subject returned to my thoughts recently, I found myself bemused by the ways in which we tend to apportion our sense of ourselves – to parcel bits of it out onto other persons, our occupations, inanimate objects of importance to us, even our pastimes or habits. "I'm Beth's husband." "I'm an engineer." "I'm the band's guitarist." "I'm the guy who sits in that armchair reading from his Kindle every Friday evening."

     It's not really possible to "distribute" your identity that way, of course; you are who you are regardless of the presence or absence of any of those people or things. Yet we all do it. We do it because of the value we place on our relations to those people and things. Though they are "outside" us, in the ultimate sense, yet we feel them as if they were parts of us.

     The tendency seems to arise from our consciousness of ourselves as finite. Finitude implies limitations and weaknesses. No one wants to be limited or weak. Our connections to other people and things help to mortar up the most important of those gaps in us. They make us feel stronger than we otherwise would. They may even make us stronger in actuality.

     There isn't much else to say about it other than to note that our sense of loss is inseparable from those "distributions of self." Imagine saying this to someone in the throes of grief: "You're grieving because your wife died? Hey, buck up. Someone's wife dies every day." A bloody nose would be the least you could expect. The grieving widower has lost "part of himself." He is no longer complete. You might as well try to jolly him about having lost a leg.

     Part of the value of grief is that it reminds us why we apportion ourselves. We are individually small. Weak. Largely incapable. Without all those connections, how would we live? Indeed, why would we live?

     Robinson Crusoe did all right by himself for a while, but how would his story have ended had Friday not happened by?

     Stephanie the Right Geek is bored with the political news:

     I see many problems in the world right now that require thoughtful, evidence-based solutions.

     But the day-to-day news cycle? The impeachment theater? The clown college debates? Here, I have lost the ability to care. None of it, in my view, is serious. It's all shit-stirring and mugging for the camera -- and to be quite frank, I just don't feel like talking about any of it.

     I feel much the same. Indeed, "shit-stirring" is a kind way to characterize it. It's exactly and only an attempt by losers to dethrone the winner who bested them – and who's making them look like the venal incompetents they are and always have been. That's why I've devoted no time or energy to detailing all the aspects of the "impeachment" carnival.

     However, the boredom has not dampened the anger. The Democrats and their Deep State allies are unhappy about their loss of power in Washington. I'm furious about their attempts to overturn a federal election, which began the day after Trump was elected president. I can only hope that many millions of Americans, however bored they may be with the Congressional caperings, share my anger, and that it will be expressed at the polling place come November 2020.

     Perhaps the most dangerous statement a writer can make is "All right, I'll try."

     I've been straining to produce a novel that many of my readers have requested. Some have pleaded for it for several years. Hell, the C.S.O. has pestered me for it. And five months ago, in a moment of weakness, I said to her and those others that I'd try to satisfy them. I set to work immediately thereafter.

     And it's been nothing but torture. I've never had this much difficulty with a fiction undertaking in my thirty years at the art. I expect fiction writing to be difficult for me, as it always has been. Yet nothing in my past has prepared me for this. I awaken each morning dreading the moment when I'd open the manuscript and stare impotently at it.

     I have no explanation. The core ideas of the thing are intriguing and fertile. The Marquee characters are vivid and appealing. The setting is evocative, and in more than one direction at that. I've even glimpsed the ending, which is usually what I most need to propel me.

     But I said I'd try. And knowing how many readers are awaiting the book, I can't find it in me to disappoint them by giving up.

     Let this be a lesson to me.

     I have a kinda-sorta friend who knows too much about me. That is, he knows about one of my expertises and he wants to use it for his own purposes. The thing is, I left the practice of that particular skill behind, many years ago. I don't want to revive it, even though I had a lot of fun at it way back when.

     That "friend" – call him Smith, which he's not – has dollar signs in his eyes. To cash those fantasies, he needs what I can do, and his importunings have been relentless ever since he found out about that aspect of my past.

     This sort of thing can ruin any relationship. It's a bald attempt to exploit someone. I liked Smith before all this started. But I couldn't endure any more of his nagging. So I decided to invite him to join me for a day at the shooting range.

     He expressed a cautious interest, not being a shooter himself, so I made sure the hook was firmly set before I sprang the trap.

     "The thing is," I told him, "the range I like has been under renovation since Sandy. It's still not in good shape. So we've been looking for folks to help out with a few things."

     "Oh?" (Smith fancies himself as a carpenter.) "What do they need down there?"

     I shrugged. "Just some target mounts."

     It's been a week since I heard from him last. I wonder why?

     That's about all for today, Gentle Reader. I have chores to address and a manuscript to stare at impotently, so I'll be ringing off for now. Until later, or more likely tomorrow, be well.

1 comment:

Andy Texan said...

Fran, in case you have overlooked, there is an interesting essay at American Mind by 'bronzeagepervert.' Must be a pseudonym.