Paul's Internet Landfill/ demons/ Lots of Words, Little to Say

Lots of Words, Little to Say

Once upon a time I thought that I could escape from myself. I dreamt lofty dreams of starting my life all over again, erasing my violent temperament and chronic laziness and all the other bad habits that make me what I am and replacing those bad habits with virtues. I would be patient, and I would be considerate, and I would work hard, and I would be successful. I would win the Nobel Prize, or I would move a subcontinent like Gandhi did, or maybe I would just show that it is possible to live in this disposable culture without developing a greed addiction. As it turns out, I can't even control my writing.

Once upon a time I thought that every blank page invited me to reinvent myself through my words. Whenever I became unhappy with my work, I could tear the page out of my typewriter (or exit from vi, as the case may be) and crumple it into a little ball (remove the file) and it would be forgotten forever. Then I could write something different -- something better. I could write with clarity and detail and voice and all the other Writing Virtues we learned in my second-year writing class. My writing would take on a life of its own; I would spawn it, but then it would wander free in the world, amassing its own experiences and developing its own point of view and drawing its own conclusions -- conclusions that would be different from (and superior to) the ones of its creator. I believed that if only I worked hard enough to write well, a Muse would seek residence in my head. It would set up shop in my brain and inject inspiration directly into my arteries.

I don't think that writing works quite like that anymore. I still believe in inspiration because I have been inspired to write some fairly good prose before. But I don't think that any Muse will come to live in my brain; my head will remain as empty as it is now. Inspiration exists, I think, but it is fleeting and infrequent and easily squandered, and I have squandered more than my fair share of it in my life.

Another thing I suspect is that my writing can never be any better than I am. None of the writing I spawn will ever wander free, for every word I write is my essence filtered through the English language. I have cruelly biased every sentence you see here with my experiences and my irrationalities and my writing style, and because of my shortcomings every sentence I write will forever wallow in mediocrity, the poor things.

Furthermore, I am learning that I cannot escape my past. Every fresh page does not invite a fresh start. The thoughts I have thought and the words I have written turn up again and again whenever I try to write something new. Ideas from documents I have deleted, from typewriter pages long chucked into the recycling bin, resurrect themselves and haunt me until I appease their restless spirits by writing them out. When I am lucky, I scribble these malevolent thoughts in a personal diary which nobody ever reads. When I am unlucky, my stupid ideas end up on the World Wide Web. The three other people who read these pages read those ugly thoughts, which shape their impressions of me, earning me an unwanted, albeit deserved, bad reputation.

Writing is entirely too much like real life for my taste. You (or at least I) can't write anything without the ghosts of all the other things you (I?) have written popping in for a visit. Similarly, I think I am learning that you can't escape from your life. There is no such thing as a clean beginning. No matter what I do to improve myself, to eat properly, to not become like my parents, the skeletons from my past ooze underneath the closet door and coat me with stinky grey reality. Once I tried to make good friends and be loyal to them. I tried to learn from the mistakes I had made before. I tried to maintain a positive attitude. I tried not to be snarky or sarcastic, and I tried not to do too many stupid things. It didn't work. In the end, my true nature showed itself. I lost my friends. I plunged into negativity. I made merciless fun of everybody around me, and I did lots of stupid things. If anything, I became a worse person, because in trying to avoid what I feared, I became judgemental and patronizing and impossible for anybody -- even myself -- to bear.

And what should I have learned? That the Christians may be correct; we can't change unless we give our everything to God (although I don't know whether that means giving our everything to Christianity). That I lack the motivation to improve myself, just as I lack the motivation to improve my writing. That I should learn to accept all that I am. That Pride is a sin for good reason. That I don't like people very much and I don't get along with them very well. That instead of ruining the lives and wasting the time of those around me, I should learn to accept a life alone, since then the only person I can subject to my offensiveness is me. That I use the passive voice too much for my own good. That the next time I decide to update my webpage, I should have some point to make. That isolation is desirable, and that I should never post to Glassdog.CLUB because every time I do I look like a dork. That there are lots of lessons for me to learn, but that I don't bother learning any of them until it's far too late.

I could go on and on. I probably have already. I don't know exactly how to stop this meandering pointless entry -- it has already gotten out of control -- so maybe I should just thank all three of you for reading, promise that it won't happen again (Sure it won't...), apologise and wish you better luck next time. Why don't you go to Ftrain instead of hanging around here?