Friday, April 9, 2010
A synonym for loneliness
I slither back here, a prodigal daughter. I’m afraid real-time confessions with human listeners will never parallel the kind and patient ear of this cave of mine. So I return, time and again, and one day I’ll raze this page and conjure another, with another name, different chromatics, but still a monument of distress, just like this. It’s just like I wrote once: bloggers are not happy people.
Perhaps I should be flattered by occasional comments shaped like compliments, that indicate, possibly, a popularity I never intended. I will tell you, though, it is the first spam that lands on this page that changes things, quite irreversibly, because spam means traffic. If my manifesto was ever some claptrap about writing for myself, for catharsis, not giving a damn if anybody read it, or some such sanctimonious thing like that, well, it was a lie. It’s something all writers do: trying to preempt failure. Popularity tickles a writer, but he declares he has no wish for it, no use for it, and that’s just in case he doesn’t get it. A writer doesn’t want to look like a fool. So he sits there, perched on his intellectual throne, and pontificates: I am an artist. You can’t understand me, because your minds are simple. I’ve no use for your heed or your comments. Leave me to carry my genius in solitude.
I, of course, am no different. I would love to have readers galore, but it’s not like I’m going to admit it like this, with my index finger and my thumb at a ninety-degree angle. The praise that comes my way, though, is like a paintball that defeats and smears. It’s not a sign of victory, but of loneliness. There are readers who admire my writing because it’s more skilled than theirs, and readers who dismiss my writing because they don’t understand it. An equal, however, a light beam at the same frequency, is hard to come by.
I’ve learned a new American idiom this week: to blow your own horn. She sat on a stool among easels and said “I’ll blow my own horn if nobody else does.” Stacy, sitting on another stool before a nascent canvas, approved wholeheartedly. I was bothered, not quite knowing why. I thought it was presumptuous to say a thing like that, even though, at times, I think very highly of myself as well. But at least I do it privately. I remember when Maria cautioned me last year that I “ought to learn some humility.” It was in the cafeteria, I know because I had an overpowering urge to throw edibles at her. And that was when I knew I’d told her too much and now I was vulnerable. Stupid of me. I took it as a betrayal of her, especially of her, the personification of conceit, I thought, to castigate me so. This token that oozed of hypocrisy I didn’t appreciate. You remember, perhaps. There were no more rides to the new mall after that. But you weren’t the only one who thought so, not by far.
So here it is, another day when humility’s absent. I recall a line from Tarkovsky’s Stalker:
"A man writes because he is tormented, because he doubts. He needs to constantly prove to himself and the others that he's worth something. And if I know for sure that I'm a genius? Why write then? What the hell for?"
I used to reason exactly like this. And you know what? I don’t know if anything’s changed.