Monday, August 5, 2013

Sisyphus and the Physics of Resistance

The musician runs scales and moves into improvisations.  The artist sketches with some abandon before moving into a more finished drawing of a person, a place, perhaps a small thing.  You use such blog moments as these to open up process to some project in some state of construction.

As you see it, you're working against the resistance of not being ready.  Being unready to work is different from sitting somewhere to compose.  You've long since had to argue yourself into sitting to compose, moving past the place of wishing to have written and into the place of timelessness, which is to say into the now and immediacy of composition.  In such a place, you're beyond time, space and causation; you're in effect beyond resistance.

Resistance is a form of cultural overload, a place where awareness is not of the sounds of the you you've cultivated as an instrument of observation, rather the you who has taken in decades of family values, cultural values, and the Muzak blare of political, religious, and academic propaganda.

Being outside these influences leaves you free to take a closer, more original look at the landscape about you.  Being stalled by these influences is the equivalent of having to argue your way out of the resistance that broadcasts as though it were cable news, needing 24/7 to have talking points.

This resistance has little to do with what has also been propagandized as writer's block.  You are not blocked.  The occasions when you thought yourself to have been blocked were in fact not blockages but the resistance that comes from allowing the culture about you to silence your inquiries, protests, and presentations of alternate possibilities.

The reigning culture wishes to present to you an elite to which you have not been invited because of your past history.  What is your past history?  In all irony, you past history is all the times you were silenced by resistance to the propaganda.

A significant aspect of the cultural bullying is the use of the rhetorical questions it prompts you to ask yourself.  Aren't you playing the stereotype of the misunderstood artist?  Aren't you elevating yourself to heights your own past history uses to attest your status?  Thus you use the culture to shut down the sense of self as late bloomer, just as in earlier days you used the culture to shut down the sense of yourself as the new kid on the block.

One evening many years ago, during the days when your alcohol consumption was considerably high, you were at a party, in character to the point of having found a rest room, where you slouched against a sink, turned on the water until it grew chilly, then began cupping it onto your face.  Your hope was to stop the dizzy spin and the oppressive sense of being hot.  A great friend of yours at the time, and an even greater friend later on, stumbled into the same restroom in slightly worse condition than you.  His purpose was almost immediately realized.  He deposited the contents of his stomach into a toilet, flushed it, then sought the same kind of relief with cold water as you.

Seeing you at your wash basin, he began to laugh.  "Golden boy gets messed up, too,"  he taunted.  "You have no idea how comforting this is."

You accused him of schadenfreude, protested your golden nature, and insisted on the alloy nature of your person.  Further accusations followed about his characterizations of you, but he stopped you with a wave of his hand.  "Let's just say that it's a surprise to see you messed up."

Perhaps that was the true beginning of your friendship with Lee W. Cake.  Some years later, while he was still in law school, you hired him to ghost the lay version of a scholarly legal work by an attorney regarded at the time as "The King of Torts," Melvin Belli.

You'd gone from being boy wonder to a place best described by you as The Peter Principle Incarnate, which is to say you'd had several early rises to levels of uncertain void.

Now, you're thinking to find some definition as a Late Bloomer, but this is every bit as much propaganda as the cultural propaganda you've been pointing at in these paragraphs, the voices of your time, telling you to shut up, take the money and run, don't make waves, don't try to take on battles for which you have neither armor nor weaponry.  Try to look good.  Write long sentences.  Bury the cultural animus.  Worse of all, act your age, emphasis on the act part as opposed to the be part.

In short, what you once saw as competition with persons and positions now presents itself to you as a need to stay at your desk, outlasting the resistances that have kept you from listening to such voice as you have, colluding and collaborating and conspiring with it.

The culture and the interpretations of your own history may well be right, but you will begin to reap the benefits of listening to your take on your personal history after all those years in which you allowed yourself to be swayed and shouted down by the notion that you were Sisyphus, pushing with no purpose at a large rock. 

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