Acknowledgement and Re-cognition
Lately there’s been a rash of occasions in which I’ve been requested to tell things about myself (my wife would immediately note the choice of nouns as descriptor and tack on “well, that’s one way to look at it” i.e. as irritant, possible disease, discomfort – a “rash”).
I’ve noticed that discomfort. Say I’m elated to have a poem accepted somewhere, or receive these lovely and encouraging blogging awards in WordPress, each joy arriving along with these little nettles: “please provide two paragraphs of biography,” or “tell us about yourself,” “list seven things about yourself your readers probably don’t know” and so on.
And I desire to tackle it all poetically, as fiction, an invention (which perhaps I think it actually is : “self-perspective” blah blah blah)…
Why are we writing or sharing recipes or art in the first place? What is that urge?
To express, perhaps – we feel aburst with something and want relief, to press it out…into where? why viewable? readable? hearable? physical? For whom?
For ourselves, we might say, some more objective, ab-stracted processing of what goes on in us as we struggle to live? Okay. But, again, why do we share it? Click the keys and hit “send” or “publish” or “post”? Why not leave it all on our desks, in our journals, our notebooks, as undeveloped film and private files?
Maybe we write to discover, to create, pass along information, simply verbalize…I agree. But also – why not just read? We’ll never compass it all, even without adding another jot or image. And if we’re paraphrasing experience as an exercise in knowing – echo – why share it? Why book? Why picture? Why avail?
My guess is that, whether I like it or not (about myself, about being a social human critter, about existing) we all of us make/use signs, marks and gestures in order to engage. In fact we must and we need to. To acknowledge and be acknowledged; to process and join the process; to have our being validated, even to ourselves, which still requires another.
I find that many of the blogs and their creators I have come so much to value are likewise reticent, withdrawn, coiled in a very unique, particular and special veil of language and machinery, cybernetic cyberspace…a safety of at least felt and imagined control over what re-presents us in our world, an edited voice, or bodiless pattern of thought. Where we feel some level of risk-management and damage-control.
My wife was recently bullied in a small claims court case. Last year one of my children was bullied on a walk home from school. In both cases, I was enraged. Almost uncontrollably vehement at what I perceived as injustice, depersonalization, predatory victimization, intimidation and abuse of power (etc.) I quickly activate into activist, I do things, strike back, strike out, and defend. As she talked me down through this recent event, my beloved spouse asked me what it might feel like to come to my own defense in that way? To be incensed at being ignored as a person, a voice, a being? To say “no, you don’t get to do that to me” as if I were just as valuable as her, as our children?
I could hardly imagine such a scenario. My instincts have defended me in fright or danger. I’ve escaped, avoided or saved myself in andrenalin-rushed bravado or terror, but never really exhibited courage for myself, or because of my personally estimated worth. Billions of graves, agnosticism, “life-happens-and-then-you-die” awareness along with saturations of accounts of wars and their rumors, poverty, destitution, abuse, genocide and all the etceteras have left me pretty humble around complaint, as if “first-world problems” didn’t count as “problems,” after all.
I haven’t figured all that out, but I’m willing to say that in whatever world, we all of us actually matter, and would do well to respect ourselves at least as much as we must all these others we care about, visit or “like,” protect or take the time to read.
I may never know any of you in a fully personal way, that is, embodied and face-to-face or voice-to-voice, but I am learning that whatever we do is personal, for the simple fact that we are persons doing whatever however whyever whenever we do.
So thank you – EVERYONE. Whether you’re disguised behind an invented gravatar, code-name or handle, some fictional aspect of yourselves – it doesn’t matter – I believe it’s originating with a person, that’s important to me, and so are you. Thank you each for whatever it is you provide to this vast and wriggling system of signs.
A “Person Award” to you all – as in recognition, not as bestowal.