How People are Made: Relation and the Myth of Anonymity
- Jonathan Franzen wrote a book entitled “How to Be Alone.”
- Here is the sunset as I drove to this spot to write. It is Kansas. This is not uncommon.
- Donne: “no man is an island.”
There is no shame to it. How many participants in Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr? How many millions “chat,” “text,” visit sex or dating sites? It’s the history of communication, as I’m considering it. Gesture, sound, scent, language. Writing, correspondence, law, artefact. Telephone, computer, Pony Express, gmail. Travel. “Solitary walks.” Family. Friendship.
There IS NO HOW to be alone.
There is no ALONE to BEING.
I have been trying to be “alone.” Unattached. Separated. Theoretically, “divorced”: “dissolute,” “diverted,” “turned aside.” TO MYSELF, in-divid-ual. There is nothing there. No one. I AM UNIDENTIFIABLE outside of RELATIONSHIP.
At one time I considered this a weakness, a co-dependence, some personal immaturity. ANONYMITY (Related words: oblivion; inconspicuousness; invisibility; invisibleness; insignificance…”) DOES NOT EXIST. (or we do not).
I’ve watched the movie “Her” four times this week. I continue to breathe. I listen to, feed, tuck in, taxi my children. I feed the dogs. I lay in a bed. I drink water. I move, in air. I rely on ground, on floors, on walls, on doors, on oxygen. When no children or dogs or phone calls or “people” (humans, organisms) need my attention… I read, I write, I sit on chairs, walk, think, imagine, breathe, murmur, eat, exercise, “think.” THERE IS NOT ONE THING I DO WITHOUT OTHER THINGS. THERE IS NOT ONE THING THAT IS ME. THERE IS NOT ONE THING. THERE IS NOT ONE. (there is only one?). (“I” takes its shape from what surrounds it).
If you click into social media and comment. If you press the “chat” button. If you text or shoot an email. If you “answer.” If you read, write, compose, move. If you “think,” “imagine,” “daydream,” “fantasize,” – IT REQUIRES INTERACTION. MORE THAN YOUR”SELF.” Did I ever doubt that “self” existed as a SOMEthing, I would now state it as a tenet of my core beliefs: I believe: THERE IS NO SELF. “SELF” IS A CO-CONSTRUCTED ENTITY. THERE IS NO “SELF” WITHOUT “OTHER,” AND “SELF” BECOMES, INTERACTING.
Here’s the gist of this. As soon as a comment is posted, as soon as symbols typed, words breathed through sound, keys struck, a step taken, a breath inhaled, mark interpreted, sound perceived, an IDENTITY (the “identification” of an organism) occurs. Imagined, pretend, hoped-for, deceptive – NO MATTER – ACTIVITY BECOMES an organism – particularized. What is “I” utilizes and processes air from around me, utilizes and operates upon matter surrounding and constituting me, and TAKES ITS SHAPE IN RELATION TO WHATEVER IT INTERACTS WITH.
Otherwise, there is NO. Simply NO. I cannot think un-interactively. I cannot move sans interaction. I cannot BE alone, an island. There simply IS no HOW TO BE ALONE. No option exists for us. We are WITH, or we are NOT.
If you respond…you take on identity – are identified – you can twist, shape, invent, pretend, co-create that “self” through chat, gesture, speech, writing, breathing, reading, hearing, moving, INTERACTION – WE ARE IDENTIFIED (given “identities”) VIA INTERACTION. Otherwise, we are simply NOT. DO NOT EXIST. Not “don’t matter,” not “invisible,” not “ignored,” not “anonymous” (all identities in themselves) – simply NOT.
I used to want to be someONE. A writer, a man, a husband, a father, a thinker, artist, philosopher, significant, meaningful, AN IDENTITY, A PERSON. I CANNOT BE something on my own, alone, to-myself. Without oxygen, carbon, gravity, hydrogen, DNA, plasma, neurons, (energy + matter in specific combinations)…I’M JUST NOT. And that carries through from the atom to the identity to the universe. Whatever BEING I might be, can be, AM – depends. DEPENDS. UTTERLY DEPENDS. On each and every moment of interaction. And is CO-CREATED in each and every interaction. There is no STATIC, no CORE, no SELF (not even a possible way to get one’s “self” ALONE/APART from world to try to discover “WITH” oneself WHO one is – IF we are ALIVE – we ARE ALWAYS INTERACTING) – no singular ID-ENTITY. “I” is an organism identified by each interaction…
“I” AM A ROVING (DYNAMIC) BECOMING
…and nothing without you
…thank you ALL for shaping a self out of/into me…
“Reality does not exist beyond the activity and interactivity of systems” – Humberto Maturana Romesin, Fundamental Relativity: Reflections on Cognition and Reality