Saturday, October 23, 2010

Damnatio Memoriae

"Alas, that the friend of my youth is gone! Alas, that I ever knew her! I might say to myself, "You are a dreamer to seek what is not to be found here below." But she has been mine. I have possessed that heart, that noble soul, in whose presence I seemed to be more than I really was, because I was all that I could be."

The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe

I once wrote that my writings were never about one person in particular. They were ripped up photographs of those I once loved. Perhaps that is selfish or vague, but I wrote and published work in the hope that they would read it and understand that I still held them in high regard. I could never communicate with them, not in the way I would have wanted. In any case, it isn't healthy or socially acceptable to be on such intimate terms with the past. Perhaps with such persistent feelings of yearning, I only ever wanted access to the past. I wanted access to a temporal impossibility.

I did love them, in the most authentic sense of the word. I loved their conversation more than anything else. Sharing witticisms over mochas in Brunswick St. Sharing music over MSN, mixtapes and long car trips. Sharing lengthy musical diatribes to one another. I was addicted to their words, not their lips. It was the truest form of intimacy for me, it glorified the past and challenged the mind. Now we cannot talk, I can only pass the things they would have loved, the things we could have talked about. Who knows what could have been said, maybe they had lost interest altogether.

There is no way of knowing their thoughts. There may be an oblique reference to us in a lyric or a tweet, but I would only be entertaining my vanity to wonder such things. Do they ever feel the desire to talk? To discuss the things only we cared about? It is like a young teen, angsting over a non-responsive crushling. In such circumstances I can safely say that in the case of personal regard, if one has to wonder how much they cared, they didn't care enough. Clearly, the Dolly Magazine education has worked a treat.

However, therein lies the paradox. I found their regard to be the most empowering, intoxicating thing. Friends, lovers, whoever they were, I saw these people as incredibly clever and enlightened individuals. But then, they swore that they did see something in me too. They spent hours convincing me of my skill and potential but I was too proud to acknowledge or accept their kind encouragement. It was a feeling of mutual awe that I could never adequately deconstruct. It was the clarity and the requited nature of it all never really made sense to me.

I didn't understand it, but I became addicted to that breed of attention. Although I would come to meet more and more people with similar interests, I was always in a perpetual state of mourning. I became addicted to missing my past. I grieved for one in the presence of another. I grieved in the knowledge that, in time, they would come to hate me too. Brothers and friends warned that this would be my undoing, but I have only realised its net effect in recent times.

It is when I revisited Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, that I understood what it is to be in love with the past. I always knew, on some level, that access to the past was analogous to access to my creative self. It makes sense when I think about it now. I would only feel spurred to create if I had their input, their influence and encouragement. In their presence, I was more than I was, because I was all that I could be.

So now I sit with my notes on how to build the empire. I wince and procrastinate and complain and I sniffle endlessly - I long to talk to you. You would understand all this. But somehow, I've realised that you, or rather the idea of you is all but a mirage. For all the laughter and compassion that we shared, there is a completely logical explanation as to why we must never speak. My desire for long winded d&ms is fuelled by the impossible situation we find ourselves in. We simply cannot speak. If my creative output is dependent on your speaking to me, I shall never get anything done.

That is not to say that I don't still love you. Our friendship was not a contract, where all our feelings rescinded upon expiration of the term. I will be forever inspired by your wit and your kindness and good taste, but I do not need to talk to you to be inspired by all that you gave me.

I do not need to know whether you remember me or not. I remember you.