And So

All literature is foreign somehow, and all foreign literature, or literature written in foreign languages, and literature from other eras, is more foreign.

The feeling of being in a struggle with someone else for — you, over you. The feeling of having to explain yourself, again and again. The feeling of having to explain really basic things, to exhaustion. Being told you have not explained yourself when you have, but have not been heard. Being told you have imagined events which are in fact documented.

People to whom one has awarded some form of special status, due to traumas they have. People who want to be the center of a movement for self serving reasons. People who will not separate support for them personally and support for their cause or positions.

The feeling of having to negotiate with someone for basic recognition; being flooded by them with the insistence that you agree with things you do not. People who try to make you pass tests, people who judge, people who want your attention but also ask you to prove your worth to them. People with whom you cannot be yourself in conversation, because they interpellate you as someone else. People with whom conversation becomes exhausting because of the struggle over your locus of enunciation it entails.

Notice the moment of giving people “special status” out of some form of pity or perhaps because you recognize differences with them but they do not. Notice situations in which you are asked to explain again and again things which are either basic or which you have in fact already explained carefully. Notice the moment of  beginning to negotiate for recognition or for your identity. These are signs that an interaction is turning or perhaps has turned exploitative or abusive.

These things are not easy to notice because they resemble their positive versions: recognizing difference, articulating a position or a wish, defining yourself.  But in the positive versions there is mutuality; in the negative versions, there is not. In the negative ones, you are trapped in the conversation through one or more of the dynamics listed above, and negotiating for the right to exist.


14 thoughts on “And So

  1. Don’t take this down! You know, it’s just crap to feel that the world owes you a place in it! That’s just nonsense!!! It’s an infantile wish.

  2. Here is what I mean:

    The Angel that presided o’er my birth
    Said, “Little creature, form’d of joy and mirth,
    Go, love without the help of anything on earth. ”

    Pretty good for an Englishman, I think.

    No one owes you.

  3. Thanks Hattie, and thanks for your earlier comment!

    I have massively changed the post because ultimately the situations it describes are so silly: being told I believe things I don’t and then thinking I have to convince these people; having them take partial agreement with their programs for non support of them as beings. My problem is thinking I have to negotiate with people who make these kinds of demands.

  4. This is something someone said on a completely different thread, and which applies to me:

    “I learnt as a child that I didn’t see what I saw, hear what I heard or felt what I felt. And as an adult I have carried my lack of self esteem throughout my relationships as well as the shame and blame of being abused and I’ve been told I’m the one who’s insane and seeing it all wrong.”

  5. Well mine alleged they wanted to know my thoughts, but they did not always. However, they definitely believed they already knew my thoughts, and they also had some things they really wanted me to think, although they did not think they did.

    The reason Jennifer and also my youngest brother have driven me up a wall is that neither is willing to allow me my own identity and identifications — they aren’t even familiar with the persons, places, and texts involved — and neither is willing to recognize that I really do speak of languages, literatures, and the academic biz, as well as some much higher level theoretical topics, with serious professional expertise and a political point of view which is not simply based in personal issues, and has not been formulated to further personal (intrapsychic) ends.

    They really, really cannot see or are not willing to recognize the level upon which I think about certain things, or operate.

  6. And, in this way (refusing to recognize that I actually have professional training and expertise and that I work at a professional level, I may chat at a casual study group but that is a whole different level of conversation), all of these people resemble Reeducation.


    Sorry if I am being unfair but I have been putting up with a certain amount from both individuals for some time.

  7. Yes, and it is very strange how self-referential some people are, as well. You’ll get along just fine with them as long as you understand that it is all about them. I indulge some people like that in my personal and online life, but I certainly do not take them seriously. I can admire their performances, but it’s all one way. They are certainly not interested in anything about me, nor do they care about what I do. They are little children, showing off.

  8. I now see why doctors and lawyers never offer professional advice off the clock. It isn’t greed — it’s that if they offer professional opinions, they want to be sure to set this activity apart from off casual conversation or for that matter, from intense conversation out of professional field.

  9. And, back to the general recipe laid out in the post — on having my ancient fury roused. If this happens it tends to mean I’m in some sort of quasi-abusive interaction I haven’t realized is that, or have not named as such.

  10. And another thing that makes me uncomfortable about this interlocutor: the seriousness with which one is supposed to take hir embrace of “shamanism” — without serious study. Ze does not realize this is really common as a flaky white hippie thing to do, and also as another DIY relgion for ex fundamentalists.

    The whole thing is just so out of whack. I enjoyed hir as a commenter on the blog, but ze scared away other commenters and started to bother me when ze would try to hijack threads. Now ze has withdrawn from the blog, where ze was actually more welcome than on Facebook, but wants to be a Facebook friend. It is just too much somehow, given the degree of mutual “I don’t believe in your position.” Too much for what it is, too exhausting.

  11. And I am too kind, and too prone to think (too well trained to accept) that the disordered personalities and heavy neurotics come first. They are to occupy center stage and direct us; we must gain recognition from them for some reason; we must conduct sanity around them, at the edges, when they cannot see us.

  12. Even just the annoyance of having to ONCE AGAIN refocus the conversation away from someone, and back to the subject at hand, and having that kind of rudeness or conversational space-taking become so commonplace that it’s easier to let them hijack it than reassert, again, one’s presence in the room. I..hmm…noticed that happening a lot with the commenter that’s recently left, and I want to applaud you for putting an end to it, if that’s not too crass.

  13. Thanks, Katie, and thanks for bringing my attention back to the prose of this post, which I rather like! Yes, Jennifer did like to repurpose threads, and did crowd out other commenters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s