Vincent Van Goth, National Gallery
I woke up today with the certainty that today was not the same as yesterday. Of course it wasn’t. I know that, I probably knew it then too, but of course I wanted the problem to be on the outside. Those problems are more comfortable to us, but I’ve already told you this wasn’t. So I guess you know one thing about the curious predicament I woke up with that morning, laying inside me.
How can I explain this feeling to you with more clarity? Clarity is visible transparency. How can I make my problem more visibly transparent to you? Try to imagine a room you spend a lot of time in, perhaps your bedroom, or miserably your office. I bet you could navigate yourself around that room in a blindfold. The sense of I’m comfortable you feel there is largely a construct of your familiar relationship with it. There are no vast, mysterious spaces to interrogate. I suppose you could say your discomfort is reduced by the presence of furniture. We really have evolved haven’t we? Mastery of the environment is no longer an ability to hunt and protect, but moreover, we have achieved mastery if we can say with certainty, precisely where one may find the chair.
Anyway, so you walk into this room with you’re mental map of the air and its grid of chairs but today this doesn’t work out for you. Everything is different, but at first you can’t quite tell how, only that it is not the same as before, and until you figure that out you plunge into a whirling disorientation, whereupon your sense of the room and therefore yourself becomes altogether uncertain.
That morning my mind was the misplaced chair in the disorientated room, my body.
Given long enough in this strange room, and yes, I promise I will drop this analogy sooner or later; we will surely come to understand our conflict with it and eventually put it right or otherwise accept it. This is the basic concept of interior design, though it should really be called exterior design, interior designs are much more complicated. We measure the visible changes of redecoration by the locus of our own constant mind. In all honesty we take ourselves for granted; we should have seen that stranger creeping into our bed, head.
We certainly know what it is to wake up with a stranger, and we may comfortably attribute that to the familiar vices of humanity. Though I would argue, the shock presence of that docile body is likely to make us feel just that bit stranger about our unfamiliar selves, at least for a while as we try to remember…
I suppose our discomfort emerges as our reality begins to crumble. Our discomfort gives way to fear as we realise we are the ones crumbling, and we no longer have the control to do anything about it. We ask ourselves, what the hell am I doing? (The aggression is usually to repress the fear) and answer that it’s all in our head. But we keep breaking things, until our thoughts and ideas are fundamentally broken too. Of course by that point we’ve really gone too far to fix anything. We’ve already accepted that we are not quite ourselves at the moment and a moment is only a fraction of forever.
I suppose when the careful china of my reality shot to the floor that morning it wasn’t really that strange at all, and that daily, I had been growing stranger. So I eventually become acquainted with the stranger squatting there and certainly look forward to meeting anyone who can comfortably call themselves, themselves in this disorientating narrative.