Stray thoughts

I used to think: faces are like characters, or they match them. It might seem that people don’t look like who they are, but you think that because you haven’t understood yet what they look like. I also used to think (and I’ll still say it, if I’m feeling pressured) that people aren’t who they are: because people are only what they aren’t yet (they shine brighter where they’re living on their own boundaries, where they’re claiming new territory) or what they haven’t been for some time (long enough for that part to be calcified, solidified enough to see). Now I would say, I’m like this: I bear in mind the relation between my appearance and my actions, and I try to keep a counterpoint between them; and I don’t like to show who I am, but who I might still be, and who I comfortably am not.

I never had any real interest in or understanding of politics until this last year or so. My attitude was pretty arrogant: that’s for small minds. My thinking has turned a little (I see a different scene); the push came from two sides. Through interest in Russia, to Russian history, to interest in Central Asia and Mongolia and their history, I came to be interested in Turkey, and started to learn about its history, and then its politics. (Copy-editing on a Turkish newspaper three years ago did not get me to be interested, so now I view that time as wasted. It may not have been.) Turkey was distant enough, modern enough (hadn’t been a country for a full century), and small enough (but still big enough to be interesting) that I could be interested in its politics without affecting my view of myself. So I started reading about it, learning about it, seeing more and more in it. (I had been interested in anthropology and sociology before, but only to the extent that they seemed to show a hidden social world parallel to or an atmosphere or secret structure determining the interactions I saw while being completely another thing; not understanding them, but replacing them.)

That’s one side. Another: I’ve never, before the past few years, wanted something from a group of people that I couldn’t get and couldn’t make myself not want. (That makes me young in mind, I know. Or soft in skull.) At work, I want money and responsibility; I can’t get it as fast as I want; it’s taught me a great deal about power to try to get it. The power structure lit up, once I failed to bend it. The one band that snapped out of my hand set a quiver through the whole web, and I saw it. That’s stream number two. Following current politics, I think I see a little the forces moving behind the scene: the dwarves changing the scenery while the light show on stage distracts the audience, their hunched bodies coming too close and bulging out the curtain as they scurry out of sight. (That simile’s off: I can read motivations better, conscious motivations and intentions.)

Why did the world have to wait so long for graphic novels? We’ve had woodcuts, not to mention illuminated texts, for centuries. What was missing? Speaking of illuminated manuscripts, printing is so cheap, why are so few books decorated? (I should probably be thankful that illustrations are kept to the cover. Especially the Penguins. Can you imagine smudgy John Singer Sargent reproductions once every ten pages? But then, all I want is curlicue initial letters, and maybe an occasional angel or golem in the margins. Would that really be so hard? I’m sure I could find a few thousand in my old high school notebooks, I’d sell them cheap!)

2 Replies to “Stray thoughts”

  1. I used to think while reading your writing that you were impenetrable, that if I wanted to comment on something you wrote, it would be superfluous seeing as how solidified your logic was, how well-thought out your words were and how silly it would all make me seem. Not much has changed. Except that now I see tiny little pores into which I raise my little hand and peep.

    For a long time, I had trouble finding a consistent relationship or counterpoint between how I look and who I am. A lot of the trouble came from seeing myself as others saw me, stepping outside and looking back at, which never works, because every one sees me slightly differently, and almost no one saw who I was, rather how I looked. That relationship became dissonant: I played around with becoming who others thought I was or wanted me to be, which confused my self. I was never really sure who I was, constantly re-inventing myself.

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