Description: A modern tale informed by Carl Jung. “Modern woman in search of a soul.”
We have no bigger fear than ourselves. And something is wrong, I think, when it is the worst torture to sit quietly alone. But that is all you have to do to reduce people in our world: just force them to be alone with themselves.
In isolation, everything we hold back comes to the surface. The unknown becomes the known. The unconscious becomes the conscious.
People think there is silence in isolation, but that is wrong. It is the opposite. To be alone means noise, din, and disharmony. In the silence comes all of the things that we normally try to suppress.
Being alone is painful. But it teaches you. And there is a strange wisdom to that: that in only being alone with ourselves, and sincere, we can learn everything that is of value.
1. Back to School
When you graduate from some place—move up or move on—you take your memories from there and you put them in a special place in your head. From there you reminisce, you recall. That place is interesting because you get this odd sense from it—this sense that everything from there is still going, somehow suspended. That there is this parallel world in which, you figure, things previous are still happening, still proceeding.
I went back to school today. I went in the morning and sort of wandered about. Everything there brought me back, made me return by association. The whole place dripped with memory.
What motivated me to return to school? I don’t know. A sense of incompleteness, I guess. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced it. What I want is a reunion: but I don’t know if I’m going to get one.
At school there is nothing there in itself for me. It’s all connected to the past, to history. It gives me this sense that I need to catch up, that I need to bring myself up to the present. That there are all these past experiences, and that I need to process them.
I saw Sasha today. Seeing her always brings a feeling of insecurity to me. Seeing Sasha is shit because she knows me, she sees me.
When I see Sasha it’s like we’re in a great, still warehouse—in a huge building that is hoarded with all of my thoughts. And then it’s a scramble on my part to hide everything, to validate myself, and to get to all of the crates before Sasha can look closely.
Every time we pass I have to drink in a bit more of reality. And on every occasion I feel weaker, brittler, more under pressure.
Around Sasha I’m always in an irritated sweat. It is an acuteness, a sensitivity—this sense that I’ll break, I’ll shatter, and the shards of me will go everywhere.
What the hell did I ever learn here? I never learned anything remarkable at school. Whatever good I learned, I always learned on my own.
All this place ever did was fill me with garbage, and make me feel inadequate about myself. I could have done without the patronizing comments, and all the busywork I had to oblige.
I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be so dramatic. It’s just that I don’t think that school, or education, has any worth. Learning is fine, but not the nonsense that accompanies it. It’s counterproductive: it removes you from yourself, and causes all sorts of disharmony.
Now it seems I am in a position to unlearn: to get rid of all the things put in me, and go back to wherever I was before. I must destroy what others have built for me.
The anticipation always grips me when I walk home at night. I’m always looking over my shoulder. I’m always looking into the woods, over the sides of the road.
Since I live in the middle of nowhere, whenever I walk home I’m always alone. And I am an idiot also, because whenever I leave places I always do so after the sun has set.
Fear invents all sorts of things. You begin to see movements in the shadows, you begin to see phantoms coming out of the night. It feels as though every force was arrayed against you.
There are phantoms emerging from the wood: phantoms of the past, of history. They have always been haunting me, they have always been ruining the night.
I realize, now, that they are not here for my punishment. Rather, they are here for my benefit. As they are representatives from the real world, here to help me in the transition.
It is fortunate I can still feel them. As I could be like so many people, be totally callous, and be unable to feel any contradiction about myself. And if I was like them, I would be without all possibility.
I see that I have failed to acknowledge many things. And my condition is because of that, because of what I have refused to admit. Now I must be unlike anyone else, and go over into the dark. The phantoms will guide me.
My eyes flicker like cinema screens. There are uncountable impressions, all coming to the surface of consciousness. Images of the past and history. They’re coming now, falling before the fixed gaze that characterizes me. They go in succession, in an assault.
How can I describe this experience? I could compare it to drug use, to a person who is going through withdrawal. Only it’s a sort of natural withdrawal instead: as I’m being removed from an interest in the world, and from an interest in the world of appearances.
It is sobering and painful. It is like going through a sort of halfway house. To the surface comes the unconscious mind. To the surface comes everything that is suppressed, suspended, and held back. And if you have nothing to defend yourself, you can only suffer.
6. In the Dirt
I remember this one time, when I kept tormenting Sasha on the playground. This was when we were both very young. I kept taking issue with her over something, over everything, like I do usually. And I kept making comments about her, and talking with others so that she could overhear. And it was during recess or some nonsense like that—and finally at one thing I said, she came over and confronted me.
I tried to dismiss her, as that’s how I usually function. And then she proceeded to take me, and put my face in the dirt.
I remember that experience vividly. I remember my propriety and confidence gone; I remember the ground, and the taste of the iron of the blood in my mouth.
7. Emily’s Gethsemane
I feel brittle, I feel split, and I feel as though my shit were all strewn out. I feel like a city on fire, like a house divided against itself—and there is an upheaval within me, and it is an incredible thing to experience.
I have always been this volatile, insufferable, unlikeable person. And I hate myself—I hate who I am, I hate what I do, and I hate my appearance, my story, and everything about me.
More than I hate others I hate myself. I agree with all those who deride me. I am without any redeeming quality, I am deserving of all the contempt I get.
I can feel my chemistry changing. As there is so much heat, because the friction is incredible. There is a hot sweat, and a constant oscillation.
From my bed I rise and I stumble across the dark. I’m up all night and I run the halls; I do not know what I am looking for. I am looking for ease, but it never comes to me.
8. Girl in Revolt
I have always invested too much in what others have thought of me. I have always catered to everyone, and I have always let other people’s views inform me. But that is wrong, and it keeps me from ever being separate from others.
Why should I care at all about what you think? You have no idea, no conception of life at all. And you will never understand the real world, and you will never understand yourself. You are in no position to pass judgment on anyone.
Why should I consider you, why should I care? You are not anything—there is nothing to you as a person. Who are you to revile, to reject, to alienate me?
I hate having to conform to so much in life. To have to put on a face for each person, for each crowd. No one knows me, no one has even the slightest conception of who I am. Everyone denies me the real dignity I deserve, and everyone subjects me to bullshit.
I must become separate from people. I must become separate from experience. I can no longer be a victim, be subject to experience like everyone else.
9. Emily’s Apperception
The conflict cannot remain. It has to come to an end. Then your house is put to rest, and you fall into yourself.
My whole life I’ve played every part, every role demanded of me, but I’ve never let any of them inform me. I’ve never taken any of it as who I am, and this whole time I have been obliging things, I have been building something within.
The meek was a means to an end; the meek was always a means to an end. Now it’s time the latent, strong personality within me asserted itself—emerged, and devoured the weak. It is time I came out of isolation. It is time I came out of the cloister of my mind.
The past is behind me, in me, with me: it is no longer a specter calling me back, haunting me. I have imbibed my character, my contradictions, my memories—and now they’re processed, digested, and the result is ease.
Everything has taken on a different quality for me. I see things differently, I think differently. I feel that I am not confined to my head, separate from the rest of myself.
I have gone down to the underworld, seen myself in all my ugliness, and confronted every irreconcilable thing. Now, there is this phantom happiness, like the phantoms of before, heralding whatever comes next.