Things one realizes about oneself when one is “partnered” or loved well. That seems to be the theme for me of late. The differences between “automatic” self-recrimination when the Other speaks of an annoyance or a threat to useful relating vs. a kind of awareness and curiosity about one’s own behaviors that opens up understanding and attention related to the same habitual practices…
For instance. For years, the only tattoo I got that was not an author or artist’s name / signature / or self-portrait, was a whim of “…and then there’s me…”: and I had a simple Ouroboros inked into my shoulder. The snake eating its own tail. Sign of health, sign of destruction. Sign of…
What’s in a “sign?” A fundamental query ruling the bulk of my waking hours, and carried over from my sleep.
THIS NIGHT. Reading others’ words it dawns on me…”My biography is my catalog. But the man who was there before I decided to become a reader is missing. I, in short, am missing.” [Vila-Matas – Dublinesque]
I, in short, am missing. So long accustomed to defining and describing myself in relation to world, others, children, parents, education, travels, experiences, friends…roles, behaviors, actions, theories, ideas, feelings…and so on…
Each scenario, event, surround, circumstance, company : co-creating WHO / WHAT I am – with no idea what “I” might be stripped of literature, philosophy, family, knowledge, accomplishments, relationships, language, interpretations, and so on…
I had marked myself with “signs” of who I “am” for my children postmortem. OTHERS. Read these people, look at these artists, think about these things…and you will have some idea of who your father “was” – Nathan Filbert – a bibliography.
I AM what I am related to. Never being able to come to the end of it…I do not know what/who I am.
I can say something of the how…which felt like a revelation on me of why the most off-handed permanent mark I requested to be inscribed into my body has come to feel most adequate / representative / apt / true?
The how is like this. I recognize in intimacy and dialogue with a loving other (my partner) over time habits of mind: annoyances, arrogancies, logorrhea, unwise knowledge-sharing (always borrowed)…INSECURITY, self-doubt, terror, UNCERTAINTY.
In most seconds of my awakeness two things are tangled, wound, immediate, simultaneous, recursive and self-devouringly going on: WHAT AM I DOING/WHAT AM I? and WHY?
My children run in, blast a request that feels like a demand – at the kitchen counter I: what am I hearing? What am I feeling about what I’m hearing? Why am I feel-hearing that? What should I do? Why do I think ‘should’? How should I respond? Why do I think there’s a ‘should’-how to respond?
On the porch reading with coffee: Why do I cross my legs? Why do I like coffee? What am I looking at? Why does a squirrel catch my eye? Why did I choose these glasses? Why am I thinking about these things? Is this what others think about? What ‘should’ I be thinking about? Why ‘should’? How should I work? How should I think? Why do I think I should have a way of thinking? Why do I think about the way that I sit? What kind of being thinks about the way it sits when it thinks on a porch and is distracted by a squirrel?
WHAT AM I?/WHAT AM I DOING? and WHY? leading to HOW?
What am I doing? Looking at letters on a screen. Why do I look at these letters on a screen? Why does language move me, draw me, resonate? What is resonating? Why? Should other things be resonating? I enjoy looking at my love. Am I looking in the ‘right’ way? Why do I enjoy looking at my love? How should I look at my love? Why do I look at my love? What kind of thing is drawn to gaze at his love? What is love? Why do we love? How should we love / might we love? Why do I hold books certain ways. How do I hold them? How might I hold them? Why? What kind of thing thinks about how and why and what he holds? What was that tone? Why that tone? What kind of being uses that tone?
And so on. Moment after moment. I get a drink. Why did I get a drink. Why was I thirsty. What does it mean that I was thirsty. How should I vary what I drink to my thirst? Why?
Rarely do I consider “Who” does these things. It’s too far removed. Too unknowable – beyond any what/why/how I can even begin to contemplate.
But constantly constantly constantly WHAT AM I DOING? WHAT AM I? (in this situation, this situation, this situation) and WHY? HOW?
And this is how my days pass. Finding myself moving, teaching, listening, talking, drinking, eating, loving, avoiding, forgetting, imagining, smelling, saying, wishing, regretting, ashamed, confused, uncertain, unknown…but always searching, observing, inquiring, scrutinizing…
WHAT AM I DOING? WHAT AM I that DOes such things? WHY am I doing them? HOW ‘should’ I do them and where/why/what/who thinks of ‘should’? WHY?
And finding nothing but infinite tangles, recursive spiraling production and reduction, endless context surrounding every moment that is constructed only of questions and hypotheses…
I chose a good tattoo.
Permanently self-devouring and regurgitant.
Self-Imitations of Myself. (Gordon Lish)
perhaps shed light on through an-other?
“A single voice raises the clamor of being”
3 thoughts on “I-Native Writing: Attempt at a Self-Portrait”
Someone once wrote something about the unexamined life not being worth something…please know that what you write is always worth my reading and thought.
very kind – thank you Bonnie
Upanishadic. Break open the seed, nothing there. But from that arises the great tree. Are we, then, the nothing or the tree? Neither. Is light a wave or a particle? Neither. Can we stand and see the soles of our own feet? Tie our shoelaces whilst running? If the Mind is silent, why so much chatter? One is a commentary on the other. Or not.