Dear Diary

A Report from Inside the Dream

I am having the strangest day, but I won’t talk about it just now. (The odd things happening will seem far less absurd in the future I imagine)

You ever think about the work that goes into setting up a life? As I explained it to my therapist, I think all people try their hardest to move towards a state (sometimes a State, too) in which the only measure they need as a guide is their own personal taste. There is an aesthetics to this; on Twitter, I was once surprised by the ping of pleasure I felt encountering a user who had developed a not oft seen ability to read text the way one reads a room. Surprised because the user should be the height of dislikable, someone to hate-read, I suppose. But it gets you thinking about the initial preference, to be guided by one’s taste and nothing else. What if, in the end, we do seek our own people, that not a one of us loves diversity, but the mistake is in assuming there is a simple definition of “our own people.”

I had a strange conversation recently with a film maker who told me she had to see Black Panther both for film making and ethical reasons. This surprised me because quite obviously, neither is true. Nobody needs to see a Marvel movie for film making reasons, Marvel makes films like concession stands make popcorn. And the whole notion that we are supporting a political cause by buying a ticket to a Marvel movie — my God, a Marvel movie that has the sheer audacity to play The Revolution Will Not Be Televised in its trailer, as if Marvel ever had that kind of integrity —  is frankly upsetting.

Constrained, I think, by the unconscious subscription to the notion that there’s only one way to find your way and it requires believing that Marvel is suddenly a paragon of film or of politics (what the fuck). That is not something I want in my life. I don’t want to build my life on political affordability, I don’t want to build my life on anxiety either; mine, nor the anxieties of those that I love. There is a particular emotional labor that I do not want to do, the labor of being ashamed for the ways in which what I see and what I want defy what the people who care about me think I should see or should want. The labor of being ashamed for the actions of people I care about because I care about them, as if that makes them me.

All of this is aesthetic because it reaches merely the first layer, the top layer, the literal and seen layer, of experience. The pleasure bouncing around at a socioverbal tweet is aesthetic pleasure. The messier layers underneath, I think, rely mostly on humiliation and how we manage ourselves and treat each other when the experience occurs to us or in front of us.  It’s funny, I used to think there were other factors — natural resources, identity politics, economics, but in the end all of that is infrastructure to administrate power exchanges which themselves are, in the end, a question of which person gets humiliated and which person has to do the work of humiliating and a truly honest analysis must acknowledge both can be very unpleasant, both are a lot of work.

Anyway, my original point was simply that I don’t think one’s people is genetic, but that certainly does not mean that one gets to choose one’s people. It’s fully possible, I believe, to be bound to others by some strange force that is not voluntary nor genetic.  And no amount of pretense, virtue signaling, movie going, reshaping of the obvious into the obscure, can change that. It will only alienate a person from herself and I think it is foolish to do that and also seems to be what everyone I know is bent on doing.

And I do like to be the right one in the room, so I hesitate to speak on it, my ego chomping at the bit. Better to let it come from somewhere else, better to let it reprimand me, better usually to be humbled by the truth than to be the arbiter of it.

By jtp

Joanna Tova Price has a lot of heart.

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