Friday, November 16, 2007

Cold Turkey

woohhh Man, It's been full on, and I don't think I'm over the worst, yet.

I'm trying to break my facebook addiction.

I'm in a very strange cyberhole... as in I have *limited* connection with the outside world, and I'm trying to focus on the tome, on reading worthy books, on meditating, yoga, self improvement, reflection, walking, writing, drawing.....

On mum's dialup connection and 1990's computer I can read text of web pages but not see any images. I can open and read my facebook account - but can't reply to any messages, use any buttons, post any text, or see other peoples images let along videos....

My first feelings are anxiety - not being able to approve friend requests, or RSVP to events that I can't attend... and my feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and a desire to be acknowledged and approved of - but not contacted - are being thwarted. so I feel frustrated, and then I feel bored, or alienated. so I log out.

Email seems to be a comparatively limited platform lately - as most of the chatter I'm familiar with is occurring on the more ostentatious platform of facebook -where everyone one knows can see who one has been contacting.... exhibitionist mayhem likes this somewhat....

Maybe that's why I've gone back to blogging (hah1 as if I ever left it!). and most of my emails have been with friends OVERSEAS rather than in Sydney - sydney ffiends has mainly been about organising stuff rather than conversational exchange...

The other fallible portal has been my phone - whose reception is really dodgy here. when it works - texts still go missing or bounce - and that's just at my end. Lucky we have a landline and the post office is only 15 minutes away or I'd be freaking out.

anyway - I ran away from home to avoid the distractions of sydney and be able to exclusively focus on the tome. and, shock horror (not) I've found that the distraction is really inside my head - and without the pressure cooker sense of fighting for time to focus - without the sense of having peers around me... without a sense of immanent communication, my ability to imagine sentences, to maintain a headspace devoted to streams of thoughts about the tome - is almost impossible.

what to do?

Part of me is really loving being here. It's a nice break from everything and I'm enjoying my mum and meals in front of the TV and reading the herald and having earnest D&M's about the intricacies of social life. I'm enjoying being a daughter and bending Mum's ear with the endless processing of the Abel debacle and the endless permutations of my eggshell heart, while cooking and cleaning and squabbling about her admittedly "margaret Olley" kitchen (decorated china and potplants EVERYWHERE.... the uber clutter aesthetic of antihousework feminist working mothers in their dotage…).

I love being in the only non drought stricken part of rural NSW - seeing all the multitude shades of green that remind me of the joys of blighty back in April (and with the similar weather).. only here - the sky burns into a deep cobalt and the hills in the distance are slate and rust, wiht granite rocks and eucalypts. I like finding my way, finding my habitus back in my old home - in a similar way that I found my habitus in such foreign places as brooklyn, Manhatten, and finland earlier this year... how do I get the foods that I want? how do I set up my computer? meditate? sleep? find clothes? I've found a great masseur - probably the best I've ever visited, and attended a really crap yoga class - but doing these adult mayhem things in the town I left 20 years ago is like discovering myself and this place again.

It's strange feeling so connected to a place that I have ardently believed for 25 years to be UNLIVEABLE for me, and so remote from a place that i've called home for nearly 20. Being away for Sydney I've realised how few of my close friends still live there, and how little contact I have with people, and how little I am actually missed, when I'm not there. Partly it's the tome - I do spend lots of my life trying to isolate myself from people so I can work... but it's also a structural thing. I've had a 'partner' for most of the past decade, and so most of my friends receded to acquaintances and colleagues... 'network members'. Lots of my old peer group have moved OS or interstate as have my art school friends. It is also a fact that living in a commune means that I've rarely had to go far for company - or call friends if I want to see people - since as long as I'm not fussy, there's always people on my back doorstep - literally.

I think I'm having a big mid-life crisis or saturn returns or something (Actually I think I have those every year... call it the burden of a reflective life). A good foucaultian, I should call it a crisis in subject formation - or an asymptote in my trajectory of becoming. This isn't that surprising innit? I mean, allegedly the *thing* about PhD's is that they are a process of subject formation - the formation of a particular type of self regulating high functioning fodder for the knowledge economy - and one is meant to acquire the skills to negotiate an identity which is entirely subsumed into the performance of an intellectual labourer -without going stark raving bonkers....(I just wish I could learn to type).

This point - the last 6 months, the waters breaking moment, the gravid point of the tome - is when it's all meant to come to a head - I'm meant to be able to *let go of the past* - dump my possessions, my old friends, my roots - and devote myself to the tome, and emerge as a free floating completely mobile servant of the creative uberclass - hell! wow! gee!

Glistening prizes dangle on the other side of that screen...(which reminds me of the simple minds LP from the 80's....) travel - working interstate or overseas, a lifetime of conferences, publications, teaching, packing up and moving anywhere - anytime chasing more opportunities and possibilities, meeting amazing people, having amazing conversations, writing amazing books....

do I want this? Well, yes of course... or coarse perhaps, since I put it so crudely. Is my cynical wavering a kind of recovering catholic mephistophelean conceit? I have very little sense of entitlement to any of this (ohh god the aspirational angst of the departing working classes... big yawn)

My life right now is ten times more brilliant than anything I could have dreamt of 12 years ago - which probably shows how boring my dreams were - but also I feel more like I did twelve years ago than at any other time. I feel absolutely in crisis. Like I don't know who I am, who my friends actually are, who I can trust or how I am meant to negotiate the world I live in.

One of the nuttiest paradoxes is that my internal dialogues are trying to work on a sense of integrity… I’m trying to envisage my self as a singular subject that doesn’t split off – or divide other people into the bits that I like and don’t like. I’ve got intense passions towards an ideal of integrity – wholeness – sustaining a personal ethics of continuum – where my being, where my sense of awareness and communication with others can be continuous and honest… letting go of the ‘no go areas’ and avoiding people where there are unbridgeable gaps or no go areas.

At the same time – I’m engaged intellectually with Deleuzian philosophers who abandon notions of ‘the subject’ and emphasise the fleeting, the temporal, the molecular. Death to the subject! Tear down the kingdoms of the I! The idea of a ‘self’ to preserve is a Freudian Fallacy that traps us in endless internal spiral towards and ego that is only ever a figure of speech – that puts up walls to our possibilities of contact, movement and life…

My urge for a sense of ‘self’ protection and sustenance can only work with this other model if I abandon this conflict and think more about the spatial metaphors. If my urge for a ‘self’ stops me from having contact with others, from communicating and expanding and growing , and forces me to stratify the spaces around me so that my ego doesn’t collapse, then … it is ‘bad’. Hence I try to be egoless, and then I just hide in my room all day.

OK try again. If the spaces in which I find myself, if the relations around me are rigid, and striated and fixed in such a way that I can’t move, can’t communicate, can’t flow, then there is a problem and I need to get out of them. The bucolic delights of the cnutry don’t hide the fact that here – I’m incredibly self conscious of what I can and can’t do in order to participate in this society with some level of physical safety. I left schappylle in sydney. I’m not meant to swear in front of my friends kids. I could NEVER do a strip tease at the local pub, or have sex in the toilets, or flirt with women on the main street. If people here knew that is what I did, there would be a scandal. Sex belongs in relationships, in beds, in homes, in couples, in secrets. Sex is fixed, not fluid. The sexual constraints are emblematic of wider dilemmas with how impossible it is to be queer or ambiguous in any sense at all. Here, my own miscegenated angst is starkly regulated into binary relief; I am white, not black, and whites don’t talk to blacks, or socialise with them, or visit each others houses. Whites don’t usually walk places, like the 10 minutes to the shopping centre, the 20 minutes to the yoga hall, the 25 minutes to my friends farm, because to be a citizen here, is to be white, and whites drive in cars, socialise in houses, not walk on the street or drink in parks or on porches.

So why am I here? Is this awareness of external constraints choking me out of self expression? Is the sustenance of familiarity suffocating? Even at its worst I find sydney madly joyous – and place where I can have delirious release and play with EVERYTHING. There’s always an audience for mad laughter or wailing sobs – even if it just the cliffs at coogee – but so often I find the mad whirl too much, too exhausting, and I do just want to run away and hide…..

So there is not ‘answer’ – just a continuous to and from –a movement between different worlds where I am constantly ill at ease, into myself where I’m completely ill at ease most of the time – and then occasionally fleetingly content. I’ve brought philosophers with me for sustenance: alphonso Lingis ‘the imperative’ on how perception can engender ethical becomings; where the world itself makes us responsive to it; and Sarah Ahmed’s “Queer Phenomenology” whose spatial model for queerness and miscegenation made me really happy as I sat in a snow bound hut in Finland earlier this year… and ultimately her model of ‘the self’ as a motile, agitated, responsive, rather than an atomised element on a singular trajectory of social mobility.

So I’m trying to think of the tome as having enable a lot of agitation, a lot of movement sideways, obliquely, and random connections and possibilities that are, mostly incredible, and incredibly life affirming. Trying not to think of it as a step on a career path –but as, an intense process which is transforming me, but hopefully will allow for more fun impossible things to be created. If I can allow myself to feel, to imagine to create and to desire through this, then maybe it’s OK.

1 comment:

Darlin' said...

Jesus, what a crisis.
Facebook has a lot to answer for.