this is where i enter text

20071223

multiple selves and deconstruction

truly (post?)modern?

First, I'll quote a piece by Lance Morrow from the January 2008 version (from the future!) of Smithsonian magazine in which he quotes Norman Mailer as having quoted Virginia Woolf in Mailer's book about Marilyn Monroe:

A biography is considered complete if it merely accounts for six or seven selves, whereas a person may well have as many as one thousand.


Second, I'll start typing:

The first thing that came to mind when i read this was the nature of my thousand selves. I know now that they're there, not separate in any way. And accepting that even inside of myself I have multiple viewpoints and opinions about even the smallest thing was a huge step in learning to love life even when things didn't go according to the plans of one of my past selves. The trick is to get out of that headspace and get into a different one. Tougher, of course, the more initially unpleasant an experience is... but who knows, perhaps you could do it, mentally at least, with any given experience, no matter how terrible, if only you focus well enough.

Then gain... that sounds like a buncha mumbo-jumbo.

The second thing that ripped through my skull was the serious translation Wool's quote has gone through to land here. I wondered...

1. Had Mailer actually read the document that he quoted and understood the context? Had he violated Woolf's original intent somehow?
2. Had Morrow fully understood the context of the quote in Mailer's use? Had Morrow Fully understood the quote in Mailer's context? Did a full understanding of Mailer's usage of the quote rely on a full understanding of the work from which it was originally quoted? Had Morrow's use agreed with or contradicted those sources?
3. Did I understand Woolf's/Mailer's/Morrow's usages? How the related to each other? Their contexts? Intended meanings? Reasons for quoting? What they were each trying
to convey to me by quoting the other person (quoting the other person)?

Shit No! And now my fucking head hurts.

In part because I just thought about the notion of someone leaving a comment on this entry, quoting me quoting Morrow quoting Mailer quoting Woolf and then me responding to that comment quoting person x quoting me quoting Morrow quoting Mailer quoting Woolf.

And then I imagined the conversation dying for a while. Then the passage of time and
the blog falling into non-update land (as most websites eventually do) and then
even further into the future, someone randomly coming across it years down the
road with some google search like 'Mailer Woolf "multiple selves" deconstruction' and
quoting my last comment to her friends in an email....

And so it continues. Further removal of context.

Does it retain the same meaning? Does it lose meaning? Does it gain meanings like a snowball rolling downhill gains snow? Actually, the quote is probably exactly like that. As it gains more and more meanings layered on top of one another, the ability to fully comprehend it diminishes until you can no longer tell how big it is. And
then, if it continues for long enough, a person observing it wouldn't even be able to tell it was round...

Perhaps that metaphor went too far. But since I'm not handing in a lit paper to some snotty grad student without a sense of humor, I don't have to worry about it. I can just think on it and jot this down for later mockery. Or future quotery.

Or for nothing at all.

3 comments:

Mackey said...

this is the typical time of year when i start doing a lot of mental self-analysis. thinking about x and y girl and my prior relationships to them, putting that in the larger context of who i am and where i'm at in life right now...especially now that i'm on vacation in florida with the family, distractions are actually fewer and i spend a lot more time thinking as we walk from ride a to ride b.

anyway, i wanted to respond to your bit about getting into different headspaces...and i couldn't agree more. i feel like i generally have a lot of lucidity of thought--i'm very self-aware of how i'm feeling, potential biases, etc. this is aided strongly by the fact that i've been studying neuroscience and psych over the past 3+ years, so i know full well the effects of emotion and bias on cognition.

as such, i occasionally find myself trying to resolve something about myself--why do i feel the way i do? and slowly working my way to some kind of explanation after the feeling has subsided (or perhaps not) and i'm able to distance myself from my state and do a more objective analysis. for me, at least, "getting into a different headspace" resonates with that perfectly.

i do think it's possible with any given experience...but it definitely takes practice, and more importantly, experience with doing it. it's easy to come up with a rational explanation--it's much harder to a)verify that this is in fact the correct explanation and b)get to the REAL issue if it isn't.

i find that more often than not i can come up with rationalizations that lay outside of myself--this or that person, or this or that occurance--but i find it much more productive to find what is within myself--if i'm in an off mood or a bad mood, rather than rationalizing and justifying, i can find a rationalization, say, "okay, maybe that spurred it," and then take some personal responsibility to actively change my view or how i feel.

sometimes, though, it's just not worth it. sometimes i just like to sit in an off mood or to sit depressed and suffer. i'm slowly learning to love myself and how i feel, instead of trying to always control it and cover up my true nature.

...anyways. of all the above, maybe 1/3 is what i intended when i started. the other 2/3 is rambling (as so much of my writing on my blog inevitably winds up). hope you don't mind.

wix said...

i have only two selves, one which is in the mood for kittens, and one which is not. beyond that i would also like to point out that not all graduate students are snotty and humorless.

supah special comento from Nagasaki!!!

dusty.rhodes said...

grad students in english tend to be snotty. there's a mathematical proof about limits in there somewhere, but i'll let it be.

wait... at some point you're *not* in the mood for kittens? madness!

mackey-- all you say is on point, as usual, despite non-similarity to original intent. or the obsfucation of said intent.

btw, i just found some old cty stuff... it is fun(ny) to think about.

me

"He's just this guy, you know?"