Having a meta moment, I sit crouched outside the bathroom door opening up to the backyard, seeking shelter from the firm sprinkle of rain, and sneak a cup of coffee and a cigarette. My children–my progeny–are still asleep inside the house. I don’t want them to see what they already know. I smoke–sometimes, today anyway. Shame and secrecy, they are the byproduct of the perception that mothers model what they want their children to do and be; they distort intuition. Isn’t it better to be the canvas of a human painted with flaws illuminated?
Maybe it is the product of a Southern California rain on November 1st, a clearing of the long-settled dust of many months, but I am acutely able to watch myself watching me. My crouching self–avoiding and inviting the cool, clear drops that promise to enliven with a crisp penetrating sensorial incitement and also punish with its shivering collateral damage of the body’s heat colliding with the steely shrapnel of the cloud’s burst–battles the storm that is me at this moment, ambivalent and aware of the torture that self-division inflicts. I watch the watcher that projects the image of a writer at work–thinking, sensing, anguishing and yearning.
At this moment, I am not a writer. The bloated title comes, historically, with a delusional job description: write the self. But producing self–whatever that means–in words is terrible and writ with horror, even as it is mundane and ministerial, the process a struggle of expression and impression. Which sentences will crackle, crumble onto the page, and will they make or give me sense? Am I controlling the craft, manipulating my readers to go where I want them to go? Hardly. I drive the machine even as it marionettes me. The parcelized being of person and persona is a schizophrenia that refuses medication to ameliorate symptoms of the madness that is creativity and desire, perception and reflection, subject and object. I gaze at the gazers.
They stare back. But each placed word on the page paralyzes me with its uncertainty and finality, each a declaration of intention that slithers past the page and is collected by greedy eyes waiting to filter, covet and reformulate me in the conceit of collusion with them. The bound nakedness of that truth evokes a howl of self-righteous anger and vanquished surreptitious surrender. Maintaining possession, control, gives way to the inevitability and yet the desire to be roped, imprisoned and silenced, and therein lies the eroticism of writing, which has always captivated me.
Words that pour, violent ejections from the loins of the abyss, are urgent and unconscious. The onset of these emissions are unpredictable even as they are inevitable expulsions evoked by exterior impetuses, events that seize all that has ever been known as life. Jail, for example. Imprisonment causes a vacuum of words with which to reproduce a reality. However, if not too long, the sentence (time) can pool the river of artifacts of the taken-for-granted daily distractions of driving, feeding and sleeping, still its flow to near evaporation, to a distant shade of memory, so that when released, the force of the cascade into the stream of the overground is formidable and unrelenting–impossible to swim to safety. I had no choice but to write then.
So how does one go back to jail when the fount runs dry and the words eke out painstakingly, letter by letter? How to not merely reproduce and occupy but inhabit and transform that space inflicted by powerlessness is where this morning’s meandering mistress muse takes me, as she often does.
Surely what we do–what I do–purposively, what I enact and deliberately create in and are imposed upon by the world, will summon up the cell. If I confine myself to others’ expectations in order to silence the gut-craving screams to be alone long enough to hear my own voice, the words may once again spill from my ears and eyes. If I convince myself that there is no other path but the one I am on, which is fated, inevitable, and irreversible–limiting my career choices, feeding the money hunger, slaking the pleasure deficit with sweets and sex and the many, many mindless patterns of performing an existence–really focus on that doom, perhaps then I can float the rapids of rhythmic type-tapping onto dry-land highways of unending sentences.
Tedious metaphors incarcerate. This miserable musing is nearly over. The irony of enslavement and freedom is the parody that we enact in fantasy scenes of the mind, bedroom and theater. Creation (and sometimes a helluva good orgasm) is born in the suspension between these two states–my banal conclusion. The only question left to answer: do we let others watch?