Mapping lately

A never-published post from November 2011.

I was feeling poorly two weekends ago and didn't leave my bedroom much, so I decided to tell you about its walls, where I have been keeping track of some ideas and words I've been connecting. Topical mapping, I suppose. I didn't get to finish this post until now, though.

The north wall is the happening one lately. The theme is narration. The relationships between narration, past and present, self as subject, and on.

I want to know: the integrity of a life, of a person's experiences, how we find it. We want to understand it before we tell the story, but how can find that clarity without the process of telling the story?

We don't know how to find meaning outside of our conception of unidirectional time, which is to say, an objectified past, a past that we can act upon and master.

The process of narration, self-narration, in order to glimpse an in-process version of that integrity.

"The Puritan use of the spiritual journal to 'frame' life is a technique to forestall the incomprehension seemingly entailed by our 'continued existence,' to achieve some sense and articulation of a life's shape even as it is being formed — to see, if only through a glass darkly, something recognizably meaningful, something useful to us as we attempt to navigate the often troubled waters of experience" (Jacobs).

I realized that the word "journal" is from the Latin root of "diurnal." By the way.

Have you ever felt the grief of thinking, There is nothing story-like about this? "The clumsy and apparently meaningless bludgeoning of much of real misfortune and the prosaic littleness which usually rob real sorrows of their dignity..." (Lewis).

That clarity — an intense sense of integrity of experience, a certainty that "everything has been leading up to this" and an understanding of just how — you can take certain drugs to get that feeling. Isn't that weird?

I'm interested in the ways that we deal with and act upon the past, through retrospection and "re-vision": "the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction" (Rich). Interpretation and reinterpretation. Continuity versus rupture.

And the way the past acts on us. The "pastness of the past" and the persistence of the past (Persistence of Memory?), which, "of course, presses on the living from all sorts of directions and in any number of ways..." (Keane).

Shared narratives versus individual narratives, and what is lost and gained in dressing one's experiences in shared narratives. "[L]ocal social realities that cannot be fitted into any overarching narrative...without doing some violence to those realities" (Keane again).

Academically: I want to write a paper comparing second-wave feminist consciousness-raising with Protestant conversion narratives.

Personally: I think I am constantly retelling the stories of my life to myself, changing them a little bit each time so that the sense and coherency of them is constantly becoming more accurate. I need them to make sense. INTP drive for understanding combined with the INFP search for meaning. You know how we do.

- 11/27/11

Shadows / bedroom and San Pablo Avenue

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Dissociation + loneliness

Here is an anxious response my mind sometimes produces: The sensation that I am possibly inside a movie, alone, and this movie is all that exists, and no one else in it is real. I see sort of from the camera's perspective as well as from my own. If I put on my headphones and the right/wrong song, my mind wants to go swirling out the top of my skull.

(Is that tiresome of me to talk about? Possibly. Bear with me.)

The feeling of being alone lingers. The world sometimes this very large and silent thing that I rattle around in.

Tonight on my train ride home I am thinking, Alone alone alone and feel so sick and sad of it that for once I stop and think up another thought to correct that one and dissipate the mood it brings — Supported and loved, and exploring my freedom and space, and tonight honestly, yes, it does help, and honestly it is more accurate too.

Rainy Saturday, September

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Before an expedition to the city with my love.

The only way I can fall asleep is clutching a heating pad to my chest

In the thirties at night. That wouldn't be notable for, say, Chicago, but this is coastal California; consider the limitations of our wardrobes, how our houses are (not) insulated, for example...

The hardwood floor in our place feels cold enough to burn the soles of bare feet. Tonight before bed though I microwave the last inch of coconut oil until it is transparent and liquid, strip and stand in the lamplight, bend to dip the cup of my fingers into the jar. The best moisturizer. Considering myself through the lens of a nonexistent camera, considering myself through the eyes of an absent lover (think: that part in The Unbearable Lightness of Being) and I hurry. Open-water swimmers smearing their bodies with goose fat. Bending down, the cup of fingers, straightening, how quickly a drip of oil solidifies on the cold floor. Of course I regard myself during this exercise, and I am somewhat exasperated. Body strange, what are you doing — keeping secrets from me with such indifference. I admit I am angry about the excuses I feel compelled to make, even if only in my head, for you. Control must be released again and again.

Read in November 2013

1. Three Russian Women Poets: Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetayeva, Bella Akhmadulina, ed. and trans. by Mary Maddock

I shared the poem "Winter" from this anthology. A melancholy and very lovely collection.

2. Queer Theory: An Introduction, by Annamarie Jagose

Picked up in a used bookstore, persevered through for intellectual curiosity's sake.

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