It’s not so bad to be hungry. There are times when I really want something, or don’t want something, when I don’t let myself feel hunger. To feel anything, even hunger, would be too much. Then there are all kinds of compulsions that I engage in. But hunger above all seems most unacceptable to me. Hunger, as soon as it stirs in my belly, feels like a drive that wants to be destroyed. A drive that will destroy me. I seek comfort, I seek release into satisfaction, my life feels like something that is no longer mine to live. I reach for one, and then another. I stalk the hallway before the refrigerator. I eat plate after plate of rice rather than allow it to be left over. And only when my clothes start to shrink on me—only when my pants tighten, or shirt buttons come undone—do I begin to realize the feeling that has been wrought on me. The comfort that I have sought (the comfort, too, that I had, for the way I am unravelled). Today I want (as I have said so often before) to feel hunger. I want to allow myself to be overcome. I want to lean into my dissatisfaction, to sit with lack and understand it, to feel the confusing excess of my desire.
I dreamed that I was confessing something and crying. Or maybe it wasn’t a dream, just an anticipation: I anticipated confessing something and bursting into tears. I don’t know if I want the relationship. I don’t know what to do. And then I was working with Ali, sitting across from her, at her dining room table, while she was on the couch. She asked me about a lot of things but she didn’t ask me about H. And I was glad she didn’t, even though it’s something I would normally have talked about with her, because I don’t know what I would have said. I wondered if I would break down in tears. Maybe it wasn’t even an anticipation, maybe I thought of my confession and it made me want to cry. My confession doesn’t even seem like a confession. Confusion, confession. I don’t know what I’m looking for—except a certainty I imagine I had in a relationship that didn’t work at all and was never going to.
Sex, or the Unbearable
Sex (the fantasy of sex) as an escape from the self. This escape is not necessarily physical, but instead an exchange that threatens the boundaries of the subject, confused and threatened by the presence of the other (at the same time that the other redefines the subject’s relationship to the self). Limits are both a means of definition and an intrusion of the Real—an imposition that pierces our understanding of the self as discontinuous and infinite.
I am not used to feeling threatened by the presence of the other—or perhaps I am too used to it, to the way it comes to seem that the other seems to threaten my constitution of being. I wish for an other who is as impossible to define as I feel, however irrationally, a love object as limitless as my self’s fantasy. I do not wish to be entombed “in the stillness of an image” of happiness, or domesticity, or getting along. For me bliss is an endless reconstitution, reformulation, redrawing of boundaries. A back and forth that is not merely an “encrustation” of a crystallized, originatory object, but a reciprocal mode that does not extinguish the capacity to act, to improvise, to reimagine. In both partners lies a significant subjectivity untouched by the other, perhaps only glimpsed, an electric charge that is the means and location of a potentially boundless attraction.
I don’t wish to inhabit the projection of my beloved, and neither do I want them to be what I imagine. But love conceived as a project in this way seems contrary to conventional notions of intimacy: while it may be true that we can never totally “know” the other, to feel truly alien to them limits our ability to surrender to the experience of falling in love, not to mention to the comfort and support that are perhaps dependent on continuous identification and reciprocity.
After the Meeting
During the movie I think: “What is valuable about love is that you get to decide what is important to you.” You choose who you love as a means of moving closer to the ideal of yourself. Or at least that’s what I imagine when the Black Panther asks the woman he loves to stay in Wakanda and she refuses. There’s more that I think but I don’t remember it now—instead of writing in my little book I drank beer and talked about revolution. Which is not the same thing although I often desire a revolution in myself and see love as a means of carrying it out. You don’t choose the other person as an ideal to emulate but as a partner compatible with your ideal. Sometimes I focus too much on this aspect of love—that’s called projection or wishful thinking. Sometimes I don’t think about it at all—that’s called living in a fairy tale. That’s called not attending to myself. After the meeting everyone stands up from the table and lingers around the bookshelves at the far end of the room. I want to make conversation and very quickly it becomes C and I talking alone. I almost don’t know how it happens. Her friend has turned from us to the others. This wasn’t my intention. Only later do I ask myself whether the friend’s turn was a conscious move (they are good friends). I look C in the eyes in a way that I haven’t allowed myself to before. Even around the table when I saw the way she looked back at me I averted my eyes. It’s not fair to let someone look at you like that. To want it but to also hide some part of yourself. That’s the other thing I wanted to write after the movie—that it’s not fair to let someone look at you like that without letting them know what your circumstances are. And it’s not. But right now it seems like that’s all I can do. I’m still figuring it out.
It is easy to forget that identity is not something chosen for you but something that you choose. When you are young, this is often the result of the desire to escape the self or one’s circumstances: I will choose what I am not but wish to be; or, I am nothing like what I presently am, and I will demonstrate the difference (often unspoken: in time). A Facebook “friend” enthusiastically sharing posts about reading, about staying in, to their 62 followers (friends). They get no likes, much of the content is well-meaning (but facile)—but they are young, in the process of self-consciously re-figuring the self. When you age you find yourself falling into habits, you meet the self you set out to create, you choose to continue on the path that you staked out. And it seems like the bands around you grow ever narrower and narrower as you move forward. The paths that you could take close off. But in fact it only takes something like 21 days (or less, perhaps, if you are younger) to rewire the brain and form new habits. There is never an end to your development, not until the mind allows the body to weigh down or halt its inertia. And even then, what comes next? Perhaps the desire to change actually starts to overwhelm the desire to adhere, and the change that comes is in persuit of a new, radical form of identity.
That’s What I Need to Tell Myself
Something about Laymon. Kiese getting chased out of his house with his mother’s gun. Thinking “What is wrong with me?” as he sits in the pine needles realizing that his mother’s life doesn’t revolve around him. There’s nothing wrong with Laymon. There’s nothing wrong with me. But I ask that question of myself all the time: turning sideways, alienated from myself, along with others that I asked roughly three years ago, like I’m returning to the position from which I started. I don’t trust myself to act without motive—why am I so suspicious? Who am I suspicious of? What brings me here? Am I most suspicious when I feel most distant from myself? But if that’s the case what makes me feel more or less distant? What creates distance and what creates closeness? How do I find my way forward from the position of being ashamed, of being the one “at a distance”? I keep imagining Mari Ruti sitting on the side of the road, and her friend finding recommendations for psychotherapists. I imagine myself in that moment, like I am constantly in that moment, but just before the point of release… Before breaking down and before her friend explains that it can’t go on like that any longer. I’m actually nowhere near that. I wish I was closer to that because it would be a point of release. Instead I am confused. I am shying. I am nervous and looking for people to hold close to my bosom, but instead of doing that I am stalking the halls at a great distance, looking jealously to the light burning far away… My expectations for Tuesday were that: the conversation about Micro-trauma would heal me. My expectations were that reading Micro-trauma would heal me. The only thing I discovered was how badly I want to be healed.