Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Melbourne

I am a woman alone. So the self-help book my friend gave me keeps repeating. “On my own- the art of being a woman alone” then an image of a woman dressed in white standing by an infinity pool- how hopeful, she’s rich. No, the book is not a swipe at my relationship status. This was from an actual real friend and not a ‘babe, you look great’ friend. I have too much experience in coincidence to not believe in divine timing and I have too much Catholic to not believe in divine will. Books magic themselves into your consciousness, I read Lolita when I was sixteen and then dated someone double my age when I was seventeen so like, fate. I re-read it at twenty so like, crime. Back to being lonesome or alone. Things that I have learned. Society thinks that women alone are valueless. Break ‘em down, build ‘em up. Emotional bootcamp. You’ll like it.

Show of hands who is watching the unraveling of their ego while they are caged inside their house with the constant looming uncertainty of the future. I see you. The world is still turning behind all these closed doors. I can’t get a gauge on it. I like to tell everyone I’m psychic but at worst I am at least observant. I think it comes with the territory of writing. I have to notice things about you and what they mean so I can claim you, take you, and weave you. God complex.

In response to corona and the Italian lockdown and having more free time not eating spaghetti al fresco, a friend of mine started an ‘e-newsletter’ which is the modern day version of a blog (I didn’t know and also I am not that confident). He wrote something that I can’t stop thinking about. We do not have the outside world to validate our experience. I think he meant it as we do not have any external stimulus or feedback to interact with, and relay that we are alive, ergo living, back to us. He’s currently in Rome screaming into a vacuum, writing newsletters. Same, babe, same. Meanwhile in Melbourne, I have been thinking that we have reduced the experience of living (the outside world) into a series of images to validate our existence. He sees our external life, that is our outdoor life, as something that lets us know we are alive, creates experience. I see our external life only existing as a thing of consumption we can spit out and post on socials. Experience creates content. See the difference? He’s Russian and I have to be the fucking cynic.

We have had our public life brutally diminished and are now predominately living in the private sphere where the glimpse in, is created through screened versions of us. Actual screens. Friends, colleagues, family- let us gather! Zoom, Facebook video call, Houseparty.  What the actual fuck? If you think about it, you are kinda trapped in your own virtually manufactured self-image. Lucky the Instagram version of you is heavily filtered cause all that blue light from the screen is damaging your face collagen, my love.

Another friend of mine, in Melbourne, bought a puzzle. It’s a Monet. Fucking thing is all blue, washed out, water coloured, pond lilies. A thousand pieces of impression. It’s good and tactile and soothing. Because phones are not good and tactile and soothing. The world as we experience it needs to be touched. Isolation in the big smoke is this weird mix of sensory depravation with stimulation overload. I don’t think we can live in our minds. We have not yet evolved to being brains in a jar. I don’t know what any of this means. Maybe it is why I still refuse to cut my awful long nails. I’m craving the visceral grit of living and I don’t even like to touch things.

Back to the alone book. The author keeps screaming ‘who are you?’ at me. Really foundational stuff but bordering negligent. Shout out to that time I got fired for the job not being my ‘purpose’. Imagine there is a mirror with no reflection. You’re living it. Without contact with others, there is no one there to mirror back to us the projected images of ourselves. It’s the same shit with how the outside world was taken away from us. Who are you in the private sphere? The mirror has no reflection. Probs cause you’re a vampire. Don’t think about it too long. It’ll fuck up your thoughts. No, not being a vampire. Looking into a mirror and seeing what is reflected back at you from within you. And just like that, I woke up in existential dread that I am not a writer.

Who are you without your work peer group? Who are you without your family? Who are you? Who are you? It’s pretty fucking annoying isn’t it? Having someone tear at your ego. I haven’t finished the book. I’m currently being lectured that life is made up of ordinary moments and not achievement. Sounds like loser talk to me.   

I am locked out of my creative process and I am working out how to cajole inspiration back into my body. And if writing my judgmental musings on the rebuilding of ego in order to integrate the cathartic acceptance of solitude into conciousness, while not reaching any satisfying conclusions, doesn’t work? Violence. 

SJ xx

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