“When disputes happened to arise, though conscious that I understood the subject better than any of them, I dared not offer my opinion; in a word, everything I saw became an object of desire, for no other reason than because I was not permitted to enjoy anything… Thus I learned to covet, dissemble, lie, and, at length, to steal, a propensity I never felt the least idea of before…”
I am still writing, though not posting. Most nights are spent dealing with the crushing weight of being myself. This week I have spent more time in my head than drinking, drinking than writing, writing than eating. It happens. The above is from a block of text at the beginning of Rousseau’s Confessions. When I accessed the Kindle store to make the free purchase, the top American comment (yes, Amazon operates independent comment sections for each language) was very enlightening. “The autobiography of a Narcissistic Sociopath.” I am reminded of nothing so much as Mathew 7:5 – “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Although I have not traveled farther than his childhood and initial education, I find myself consistently empathizing when the author relates a lack of agency in his life. Rousseau does not waste time recollecting his first experience of sexual arousal so that we, generations later, can laugh at the 1720’s version of “dat ass, though,” nor do I think he was implying that all who suffer corporal punishment before resolving their oedipal conflict (which must have had a different name sixty years before Freud’s birth) will inevitably wish to be dominated during sexual encounters. Life isn’t: if A then B. What I take from the text is that in any particular environment one has two choices: leave or act in accordance with your intention. The behavioral models in Rousseau’s early life were, pleasant or foul, inexorably dogmatic. Relatives, educators, employers all expected a certain behavior of him and his every consequence was a direct result of their preconception.
Perhaps when I am seventy I will have the grace to recollect what we shall term my formative years from a benign state of senile sublimity such as the aforementioned Narcissistic Psychopath. I am young, though, and full of anger. You would not know it, looking at me. People describe me as sweet, caring. My name actually means caretaker, helper. But, I have rage. A rage suppressed to such a degree that I display it by crying. Even righteous anger begins as a creeping weakness in the limbs after the nature of delirium tremens. I am learning not to suppress these feelings but to allow them to pass through me. When my boss put his hand on my shoulder this afternoon, though, I could have released the rage right through his kidney with a knife.
Wednesday evening I had accepted that there would be no cooking in my immediate future. After a meal of kidney beans I summoned the energy to acquire canned organic vegetarian chili from Trader Joes to mix with the remaining beans for the rest of the week. It was this I had in front of me when I felt him standing behind me; some have a presence detectable without sight. With a smirk (I am still determinedly not looking at him) he placed his hand on my shoulder and commented on my lunch.
I would like to take a moment here to explain that my only insights come from watching Marlfox. She is a most particular eater. It is a rare occasion for food to disappear from her dish unless I am present and have shut the door to our room. She also refuses to consume more than two thirds of a serving no matter the size. Oh, wait, bad behavior in animals is learned. I used to experience the previously mentioned murderous rage any time my then lover would take from my french fries as I was compulsively trying to finish them at exactly the same time as my soda and sandwich. I stopped carrying a knife for a while, it was that or give up fries.
Back to my boss. He says, “Well, I know you did not make that chili!” My habit of preparing fresh meals has become a running joke at the office. Heaven forbid my willpower fails and I partake of the Friday doughnut festivities, not because I receive inappropriate harassment constantly but because not a single person notices the inconsistency. What fun is there in mocking something mindlessly, speaking on a subject of which you know nothing? My assumption is that the tofu looked like ground beef to my boss because he only sees what he wants to. Therefore, I was eating meat. Therefore, I had not prepared my own meal because I am not a meat eater. I try not to refer to myself as vegan; it isn’t something I aspire to. My goal is eating habits that are sustainable and respectful. My diet is often described as vegan by others, however, as they grasp for a way to explain my personal beliefs without ever having to understand them. But, hey, words don’t matter. We can all just grunt at each other and see who is perceived as having the most power.
My boss may have thrown out a, “Looks good,” but I was not in any condition to notice. That man isn’t any different, the occurrence any different, than my co-workers and the times I am patient enough to lower my headphones in order to participate in their circular conversations; he just happens to be the boss. There is no dastardly design, no enmity, and it is nearly impossible to fight apathy.
“What will be the consequence?” the reply was ready, “I know the worst, I shall be beat; no matter, I was made for it.”
P.S. The traditions of Arthur and Cortez aren’t so very different in that they are terribly inaccurate. If you find your font, drink until you fear you may burst; then, drink again!
P.P.S. Google translate the German Amazon website for stellar reviews on electronics and appliances. Or learn German.