Twenty-Nine

I want so much more than just this sense of relating to life in a once-removed sort of way. I want the plunge, in full; I want to climb a tree, then live in it. I want the scratches of every surface I climb lingering in the skin of my palms. Every breath breathed fully. I think it’s so much easier for people to exist on film, because on film all you see is their bodies doing, their bodies existing, the body from the outside: you don’t see the mind racing, being elsewhere, being absent.

Nineteen

There is something I haven’t fully considered about writing, which is that every time I work on a story I do so in streaks: for a few days, all of my mental (and –to a certain degree– physical) energy is focused on this one story, on existing in its universe, responding to its demands.

It is like getting on a ride of sorts and my body and psychology are set to the movement of the ride, responding to its rise and fall, orienting me based on where the ride takes me. Or perhaps more like climbing aboard a ship.

But then, after a few days, or even a week (depending on how lucky I am with stamina, with the length of my streak), I climb back out of the story-ship’s bowels and return to the motionless shore of non-immersion, the basic state of living when I am not thinking my way through a writing project. Even if I haven’t finished the story I was working on, adapting to the shores of non-immersion takes me a while: I need to regain focus and balance.

The feeling is the same as being lost but feeling the need to keep moving: the same hectic pull.

Every time, I climb or fall out of the story onto sold ground and it feels like sea-legs; I feel dizzy, disoriented, but also angry with myself for feeling this way; I tell myself,

‘What do you mean? You are a terrestrial creature, not a fish: you belong on the land, this is your home, where you were born. And yet only after a few days or weeks at sea you mean to tell me that you suffer from a sense of disorientation on the very ground your legs have evolved to tread?’

This is, of course, only a metaphor – and I like to stretch those a bit. But it puts into words the feelings I have been battling for the past few days. My disorientation makes no sense to me: all I did was climb on a boat/story allow the motion of the waves to carry me, affect my sense of balance for a while, and then climb back out onto a shore that should feel stable and firm, a ground that isn’t supposed to be spinning, a horizon I have convinced myself should the straight and clear.

But here I am, without focus and, most of all, berating myself for it instead of accepting that this is simply part of the process.

But here I also am, writing it out, making sense of it for myself so that I may eventually learn to accept it.

Eighteen

The moment you see a man in a suit and he does things a man in a suit wouldn’t do, you reconnect with the idea of humanity, which in itself is simply the joy of being surprised, of not being confirmed in one’s hardened beliefs.

It is sad that this is what it takes, but also delightful that it happens so often when you look for it.

 

Fifteen

[I am currently working on a story that deals with the Body and its place within the Self, and in order not to lose myself in the process I keep a small notebook on the side (of course) in which to go over what is happening from the perspective of my characters, record thoughts or insights they may have.]

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Despite what some religions say, it seems inevitable that the Body outlives the Self -the I- over and over. 

When the body grows old, it remains itself no matter how many limbs it loses, and no matter how many bacteria inhabit its cavities, how much turnover occurs within the cells, the body aims to replicate what it already knows and is. By the time the body dies, the I has dried up countless times and been replaced with a more vital version of itself, plumper, more current – perhaps on a daily basis. We learn so much, so quickly. 

Among the constellation of things that we are, the body is possibly the most consistent, and this is perhaps why it upsets us so much that it cannot be impervious to the effects of living: if, despite its inconsistency, our body is the most consistent part we have, its inevitable mutations become terrifying reminders of the chaos we inhabit.

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Nine

Peter Sloterdijk on Rousseau’s fifth Rêverie and idleness:

Inmitten des weltweit herrschenden unglücklichen Bewußtseins (das Stoikern, Buddhisten, Juden, Christen, Muslims, Sozialisten, Entwicklern, Therapeuten und Konsultanten Arbeit gibt) entdeckt Rousseau – obschon episodisch doch exemplarisch – einen zeitgenössischen Zugang zu einem glücklichen Bewußtsein. In diesem Moment nimmt der Begriff Freiheit unwillkürlich eine neue Bedeutung an […] Er bezeichnet einen Zustand erlesener Unbrauchbarkeit in dem der einzelne ganz bei sich ist, und zugleich weitgehend losgelöst von seiner alltäglichen Identität. In der Freiheit der rêverie ist der einzelne von der “Gesellschaft” weit abgerückt, doch auch losgelöst von der eigenen, ins soziale Gewebe verstrickte Person. Er läßt beides hinter sich, die Welt der kollektiven Sorgenthemen und sich selbst als Teil von dieser. Frei ist demnach, wem die Eroberung der Sorglosigkeit gelang. Freiheit im aktuellsten Sinn erfährt, wer eine sublime Arbeitslosigkeit in seinem Inneren entdeckt – ohne sich gleich bei einer Vermittlungsagentur zu melden.

Peter Sloterdjik – Streß und Freiheit. Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin. 2011.