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05 July 2012 @ 12:32 pm
thinking about thinking  
I want to talk about the way I never seem to be satisfied. And yet, it seems so counterproductive in a sense, to harp on the bits that are still and yet and still "wrong" with me. It all gets a little overly self-referential, even for a journal. (Are writers all necessarily a bit prone to narcissism? Do we conflate self-examination with self-interest? And is interest in self really such a terrible trait? I worry about these things.)

"Sometimes writing makes us seem like better people than we actually are, even when we write honestly. I don't necessarily put all my meanest thoughts into the world. I write mostly when I have something to say, and when I'm feeling creative. Which, by definition, is my best self, and so I know I'm presenting someone better than who I am." - a snippet of Stephen Elliott's musings from the Daily Rumpus email today. This is another something that I worry about - what if this delving and creation, these attempts at brutal, cleansing honesty, what if it is all just a more sophisticated cloak of ego? What if these stories are all just a slightly more complex set of tools for convincing ourselves that we are beautiful and good and better and loveable? The world is stories. It is concepts in context and tales that we tell to appear as the people we wish to be.

To my previous point, the fear of the inherent narcissism of creating art, of exploring ourselves with various degrees of visibility - good old Stephen also had something to say about that: "You can't write well about someone you hate... You have to forgive, or at least understand. You have to inhabit them." I tend to believe, when I'm not feeling cynical, that love and knowledge and forgiveness of self is the one path to true connections (and love and knowledge and forgiveness) of others.

In this then, as in all things: balance.