Friday, April 15, 2011
I have been reading some of St. Augustine's Confessions, and thinking about the confessional, and how ready I am to always be making confessions myself, and how much confession dominates the way we write now. Derrida wrote about confessional discourse: "It is not a truth to be known or...revealed." "We are always already in the process of excusing ourselves, or even asking forgiveness, precisely in this ambiguous and perjerous mode."
The confession of something pervades our little streams of information, these maps we make inscribing ourselves upon others' consciousness. It's an interesting mode we use, often indicting ourselves and simultaneously making judgments and attempting to sum up neatly our ways of viewing all at the same time.
Is life rich and complicated and endlessly complex or is it all easily encapsulated in tiny little phrases and aphorisms? Why are things like Twitter and Facebook so successful? Well, a host of reasons, and a lot having to do with corporate stuff that I will never fully understand because I cannot bring myself to be interested enough, but part of it is that these small bites of information, good copy, little jokes, little morsels of universalizing purported truths move us. They make the endless streams of information smaller, easier to digest. Why do we have to be inclined to diagnose our impulses as good or bad? I hate trying to have to figure this stuff out. Once you have the question in mind of what constitutes good behavior, you have to worry you do not see what you are being complicit with in your time that is bad for other people and bad for the world. You have to start to worry that you are like Stevens in Ishiguro's Remains of the Day: too consumed with your quotidian contemporary, too narrow in vision, misunderstanding of the bold strokes necessary to make your own and other lives better, or simply too cowardly to make the moves you should, too unwilling to change. How to know if you are on the wrong or right side of history? It seems like there is simply too much in the world to know, but the burden is upon us all to know (and act accordingly).
Making a marker of yourself in the world is problematic, and starting from nowhere is worse yet. Once you draw a line of yourself that announces your small piece of knowledge of the way things are you are up for an insane amount of scrutiny. You become potential schadenfreude fodder, you illustrate this little piece of what your access to insight is and the crazy universe of what you do not know. And we are seemingly expected to know everything because everything is available to us. No matter what we make we are leaving something out. No matter what we know we do not know enough to be right. To choose one thing is to exclude something else.
Ah, I am confessing myself here, aren't I? I worry about what I do not know, it's something that's haunted me forever, the little thing that threads its way through every other thing on this little confessional blog (and this is clearly all the soliloquy of someone procrastinating, aware of this excercise being the neglect of another). And something I am not allowed to excuse because I have to at least pretend to be some kind of authority on something, and I must attempt to know, I must argue that I know. And by putting that out here, into this endless stream of identity collisions and performances, I am asking someone, somewhere, to forgive me my trespasses of ignorance and mistakes made as a consequence. Oh, the internet.
Posted by willow at 6:13 PM