It’s not that I have disappeared or that I have stopped caring about writing here or elsewhere; it’s just that life makes it more and more difficult to do so.
I don’t mean as a matter of time constraints, necessarily, though that’s certainly a part of the reason.
But there is a deeper dimension to the process of becoming mute for some of us—a process that in my case has been ongoing since I first entered my twenties.
— § —
I’ve spent a good deal of time over the years engaged with various forms of personality evaluation, self-help and motivational literature, spiritual traditions of various kinds, and so on.
I know all the criticisms. In fact, I may have internalized them, as a consumer of these kinds of goods.
But as I get older and just a bit more wise, it has begun to dawn on me that the criticisms aren’t entirely innocent; they’re part of the ongoing process—not a conspiratorial one, by any means—by which certain kinds of personalities, certain individual value systems and orientations, and certain problem archetypes for enlightenment rationality and the totalized (along whatever axes) societies that it characterizes are repressed and displaced.
— § —
I’m an introvert. This is held to be maladaptive.
I’m not resource- or consumption-oriented. This is held to be maladaptive.
I’m a naturally dubious, inquisitive, and critical thinker. This is held to be maladaptive.
I enjoy nonproduction/nonactivity. This is held to be maladaptive.
I’m rather sensitive. This is held to be maladaptive.
I’m also stubbornly attached to my own judgment. This is held to be maladaptive.
— § —
The problem with trying to improve oneself in the world—which is really code for trying to figure out how to feed oneself after all in the extant political and economic systems that own the day—is not that the outlined techniques don’t work; in many ways, they do.
It is instead that self-improvement techniques are secretly tools of domination, designed to cause those of us that don’t naturally sustain and reify existing orders to become more like those that do.
— § —
It’s an extrovert’s world.
It’s a crass materialist’s world.
It’s a world of knowing, not a world of questioning.
It’s a world of action, not a world of thought.
It’s a world of rationality and externality, not a world of intuition and sensation.
It’s a world of the inessential, not a world of the essential.
The group of most successful archetypes is indistinguishable from the group of extroverted, productivist, consumerist, doubt-free, thoughtlessly acting, rationalistic, and inessential ones.
— § —
As I have become better at feeding myself—as I have, in other words, striven to be ever-more like that which I am not—my ability to produce or to feel motivated to produce—anything at all—has declined.
As a young person, I was incredibly generative, so far as I was concerned. Now, not so much so far as I am concerned. The lack of writing here (and elsewhere) is evidence of this.
The trick (and evidence) lay in the fact that to dominant eyes outside myself, I wasn’t particularly productive before and I am more or less in the same boat now.
— § —
For all the striving for change, what I have most lost is myself, something that disappeared along with the many habits of thought, feeling, and desire that characterized it—habits that I have spent a lifetime trying to change in order to “reach my potential” and to “be a better person.”
It is only now, as I get older, that I realize what a fool’s game much of this is. It doesn’t matter how hard I strive to be one of “them.” I will never be so “them” as they are—those gregarious personalities in suits that ask questions about price but not about value, about representations but not about their meanings. There’s a place in the world for MBAs, lawyers, politicians, enterpreneurs, and so on. They have a distinct value all their own.
But for the rest of us that sacrifice 90 percent of what we ever were on our own terms in order to manage to become 10 percent of what they are on theirs—the exchange is hardly an equitable one.
— § —
And once habits of thought, feeling, and desire are lost, they are difficult to re-establish.
But (for anyone young that stumbles across what I’ve written here) don’t imagine that by strangling your own nature you’ll fill any resultant vacuum with a new nature.
Instead, for the most part, you’ll be left with the vacuum—and you won’t be what you otherwise might have been.
Those that don’t understand—they’ll pat you on the back and say that you’re “getting better” and “maturing” and “growing” all the time.
Don’t listen to them; your instincts are correct. You’re not. You’re losing what makes you great. Pursue it, and let the naysayers complain bitterly—as they will, over and over again, unable to understand what you’re on about and what you’re all about.
But they need you, even in the midst of all their complaining, lack of understanding, and tendency to persecute you. The world needs you every bit as much as you need yourself—do don’t let yourself be sacrificed, and by all means, don’t perform the sacrifice with your own two hands.
— § —
So, in an obtuse (and, for the “other” kind of people, probably frightening, troubling, or bewilderingly nonsensical) way, that’s why I don’t write nearly as much as I used to, and why over the years since I began writing regularly, my writing frequency, quality, and volume have declined linearly over time.
I’m gradually training myself not to write. With every day, I get better and better at being “successful,” something that never quite measures up to the “success” that others—the ones that pat me on the back for it—enjoy, nor to my own values. And, with every day, I am less and less able to make use of the talents that I once had.
Dominant social and cultural forces, both individual and gestalt, didn’t value those talents. I made the mistake of imagining that—as a result—I didn’t, either. And even now that I have realized that I did, there remains the very practical problem and reality that they are maladaptive if I want myself (or my family) to eat.
I’m making a conscious effort to try to find certain things in myself again, writing (real writing) amongst them. We’ll see if it bears fruit. Even if it doesn’t in any real way, the attempt—if I manage to remain sincere about it—goes, at the very least, some way to restoring some sense of integrity, in the literal sense.