Saturday, December 3, 2011

When the Interior Life Becomes Outer

The interior life beckons to you each time you focus on a work you have not quite grasped to your satisfaction.  No matter if the work is someone else’s of your own, you are still drawn inside, where your reference works are stored as experiences, memories, and that even darker, murkier attic where your connections are stored.  You are on the cusp between knowing the connection or understanding is “right around here, somewhere,” and thinking there is the equivalent of some reference work, some old association, you might consult to produce that relieved feeling of a clearer vision.

Notice you fudged with that –er ending you tacked on to clear.  Having sight of a thing that intrigues you, you’re confronted with the curiosity to learn more about what you’re working on or what you’re trying to assimilate.  You are looking for a workable vision.  Since this is all going on interiorly, this means, among other things, that you talk to yourself.

Since you are already out of the closet about hearing voices, talking to yourself does not seem anomalous, as in, What’s another voice here and there?  Thanks to the Bluetooth device many men and women wear, tucked into an ear as though it had always been there, it is now possible to confuse mid-level managerial persons walking about the streets having conversations with other individuals with similar devices, with mid-level psychotics, walking about the streets having conversations with squatters, imagined individuals inhabiting their personality.

The interior life is where you get most of your work done, saving some of the more cogent streams for various publishing ventures or for outlines you consult when in classroom situations, alert for new ways to prepare and approach lecture material.

When all goes well and you have before you a legal pad at some coffee shop, you think editorial suggestions from what seems muscle memory.  No, you’ll tell yourself, that doesn’t work.  Too dry.  Too convoluted.  Then line out the offending tropes as a prelude to replacing them with the better, more conversational choices.

When all is not going so well, you will be walking, say from your car, through a parking lot to some market, bookstore, or classroom, when you are beset with the question, How the fuck could you have let yourself do that?  Although extreme, it is a reflection you have made on occasion.  You are on pretty good terms with yourself if you do say so, thus such observations do not send you into some emotional tailspin, particularly when, impressed to the other extreme by some association you have made or invention you have assembled with seeming audacity, you are every bit as apt to tell yourself, That was pretty fucking remarkable.  You emphasize that this is not some ceremonial ritual, some reward banquet of your fantasy life, merely a nod at a nice performance.

The problem comes when you verbalize instead of using interior monologue.  The problem is exacerbated if there are individuals—strangers—at close hand, such as the day you were at a coffee shop, where you had been working, then, discovering you’d not brought a particular reference book along with you, gave voice to your thoughts.  “How the fuck could you have done that?”  Mere exasperation to yourself, but given the dramatic intensity of your existential question, a disturbing distraction to a number of students about you and in particular to a group of four earnest men in white shirts, engaged in a bible study group.  

It is good to know what you mean.  It is better to be on the hunt for ways to know what you mean in the most pellucid terms possible.  Indeed, many of your arguments are over word choices, enhancing the possibility that finding mot juste will excite you beyond interior monolog.  About two weeks back, in the same coffee shop, you hit upon the right word to describe a man who had what you’d earlier described as lantern-jawed.

“Prognathus,” you said.

“I beg your pardon.  Were you talking to me?”

The questioner ultimately moved to another table, some distance from you, and you can quite understand why she’d want to.

For your part, you could say in all truth that you are as apt to make such Tourette-like vocalizations when working at home, but there would likely be no one about you to listen to your explanation.

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