Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

On Mimesis and Confabulation

I watch people. I listen. I make up stories. Sometimes they involve me. And once in a while those stories that don't involve me don't involve sex. But this isn't about those stories. Those stories are infinitely more self-indulgent than even this medium deserves.

In fantasy veritas. Where are we more ourselves than in the sacred confines of our minds' most private recesses? Where the light is artificial, the heat is neurothermal, the music is twelve-tone and we just don't care.

The bus is nice. But then so is the street, especially in spring, where the permutations for furtive glances cast and returned are more numerous, more likely to suprise. The possibility of a gratuitous smile around every corner, at every street-side cafe . . . the hermetic, elevator-sans-faux-bonhomie environment of the bus hasn't a chance.

Plus ca change . . . only the refinement of my fantasy life, the cleverness, the occasional complexity, distinguish today's fantasies from those of the half-my-age me, dozing for want of one interesting discussion in AP English while the teacher drones on about what Heathcliff symbolizes. Later, I'll learn, or be encouraged to believe, her views are hidebound, a product of dated criticism. My radical feminist grad-student instructor in college will set me straight about Heathcliff. And suddenly I will find in dated high school critical bromides a new appeal. I clasm whatever icons are set before me. It's a bad habit. Like nose-picking.

Or staring.

In fantasies there are no pratfalls. No wine spilled, mouths missed, embarrassed self-effacing chuckles. Of course in fantasy, in mine at least, there is little olfactory simulation, only a modest soundtrack somehow tinny like an old transistor radio on the porch -- oddly, there really is nothing like touch. This last aspect, at least, must be true of most people or else it wouldn't be a commonplace that masturbation is, directly or indirectly, a manual task.

I almost typed menial. Which perhaps says it all.

I bottle strangers up and save them for later. Sometimes, I come here to preserve them as though in formaldehyde. An odd mimetic habit, I reconstruct them here, smooth their imperfections, diminish and sharpen a nose here, eliminate a slight distension of flesh beneath a brastrap there, record something more sensual and demure over a honking androgynous laugh, change blonde to brown to auburn -- build to suit, as they say. A dream journal of sorts; I save things here I would otherwise lose.

But in an adult lifetime of the interplay of my real world and my fantasy world, in which demarcations blur and relocate without warming, in that gloaming between childhood, when imaginings are chaste if mischievous, and senescence when I will imagine whatever senescent-me imagines (I'm neither so naive nor so optimistic to pretend to doubt that I won't, to some extent, be enslaved to certain familiar habits of mind, in one fashion or another, for the run of my days), in a lifetime of worrying about how others perceive me, there is one question it has never dawned on me to consider.

Do strangers ever fantasize about me?

Odd, these little cognitive sinkholes that grab at our ankles when we least expect it. I feel as though the answer to that question would have tremendous value. But then I often do that: overvalue the unknowable at the expense of the known. Denying myself the simple satisfactions of affirmation and vindication serves as a sort of calisthenics for my imagination. For what I don't know I'm left only to ignore. Or conjecture. And I'm terrible at ignoring the things I don't know.


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker