biography is not the soul...
and interviewing someone will never help you get to know who they are.
questions do not open up unless they are the right kind, and in many times and places the questions are not only tiresome and boring, but mindless and stifling.
what matters about someone is not how they answer a question, it is how they live their life, and more personally, what they are 'like' to actually be with.
the same old questions, carrying the same old assumptions... how can you answer a question when you know it to be based on a whole pile of premises that must be considered carefully first? so many questions are such as these.
in person, we know how we feel without asking ourselves. we know our response to someone because we respond without worrying about it. how close are they? how much do we expose to them? how much can they handle, how much do they want? how much can we give...? do they remain on the outside of a casual, polite but friendly, superficial set of 'public clothing,' or do they need and deserve more exposure? what are they offering in return for that exposure?
in person these are not even questions, they simply happen instantly and easily. exposure is a desired state, in general, but not an appropriate one at all times. at the corner store, all that is needed to be known of me is that I am friendly and treat the help with courtesy and respect.
when talking to someone who is failing to 'get' where I am coming from, do I open up more? does that make sense, or is it a waste of energy? if it will help them open themselves up or grow, and I have the energy, it is certainly not a waste. but banging my head up against someone's opinions and prejudices... is not using energy wisely.
at least, there is always the anonymous listener, the reader. they read because they want to, they are curious. they read as much as they want, no more, no less, and I don't have to worry about the quality of their company or my comfort in their presence, or even their opinion or relative level of respect for what I say.
and so I open up in the written word readily, easily.
with a person, there are so many variables. do their assumptions (we all make them...) allow me freedom to express myself? (and mine, allow them to, too?) can I express myself without hurting their feelings, or shattering their myths (not that this ever happens, when you think you're doing this, people are just ignoring you)
questions and answers... a strange form of conversation. comments and criticism are more interesting. canards and curios. chasing the dove of thought together, out loud, still waters of seriousness punctuated by gleeful chuckles and knowing looks, tender touches.
do we want to share this with every person we encounter? well, it might be nice, but it's an ideal. in reality, it would be a waste of most of their time. and of course, ours.
and there is the danger factor. not the danger of exposure, of pulling down walls, but the danger of being labelled in a restricting way... I am sure 10% of what I think, if not more, would be horrifying to 90% of the population. why do I say this - is it because I think I am so out there, so cool, so bohemian, such an iconoclast? no, it's because I have tried, and very few have the capacity or desire (or shared thoughts) to go there.
but those few do exist, and it is a pleasure to build up and tear down little palaces of thought, ideas, with them. With a certain few, it is an even greater pleasure to allow that palace building to include a few pleasure domes, to blur the line between kinds of intimacy, perhaps even to blur the line between selves, for a moment... a brief shining moment in time.
but we cannot plan these things, or force them to happen. we usually don't even know why they happen. we just need to be ready to dive in and enjoy them when they offer themselves.
I try to predict possible scenarios under which these pleasures of palace building might occur... by describing some basic traits that allow it, with me, for me, to draw those I think I might appreciate closer.
at the same time, there is the opposite, to relieve those who would not enjoy me, or I them, of the trouble of meeting me. to let a little of the real thought behind the words leak out here and there, so if their sensibilities are offended at that, our troubles are spared.
daffodils are nice, don't you think?
and day lilies are far more common and easy to find than people we can truly share our inner selves with - because it's not just about putting ourselves out there, it is also about them receiving what we put out, and our knowing it, and obviously the mutual exchange of this process.
not so common, truly.
I am not going to speak my mind to someone who changes their sign to read 'freedom fries,' I am simply going to, perhaps, eat a few.
I am not going to deeply enjoy knowing someone with a little 'fish' thing stuck on the back of their minivan... it's unpleasant enough knowing that people who don't understand the concept of science even exist.
it's hard enough living in a world full of ignorance and savagery, that engaging all those who exude these qualities is not worth it. far better to try to reach out to those who have lifted themselves up out of the mythological goo and emotional quicksands to see ourselves as we truly are...
bundles of nerve and other fibers assembled by little molecules in order to make more little molecules like themselves...
strangely enough, the tools they use to do this by making humans, allow us humans to contemplate the process while in the middle of it. and such contemplations, indeed. We seem to be able to extricate ourselves from the process and actually wrest some small amount of control over the environment that programs our brains, perhaps even exercising some actual freedom along the way... although this rarely happens.
but being the machinery while thinking about the machinery is always fun, especially if you get lost in the layers of being and simply start to.... be.
© Huw Powell