i’m a hypothetical introvert
February 15, 2009, 16:07
Filed under: Hypothetical introvert | Tags: , , , , , ,

hypothetically meIt’s true that the last thing I ever thought I’d be doing is blogging even if I am a hypothetical person. The reason I never thought of myself as someone who would blog is because I’m an introvert and blogging being a hypothetically public act doesn’t seem  the kind of thing an introvert would do. My friend D says that I make an introvert look gregarious. I think I was born this way. My life feels like a secret that I’m sworn to keep.

Only an introvert could spend as much time as I do alone in a room. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m agoraphobic. I do go outside sometimes and I enjoy it when I do. I like to take walks and ride my bike and I really enjoy going to my favorite grocery store where I can mingle anonymously with my fellow human beings. The name of my grocery store is PA. I don’t know what the PA stands for. Perhaps Petulantly Agoraphobic or Patently Anonymous but most probably they are the initials of the owners whom I don’t know personally but I do know they are Greek. I often refer to this grocery store as the Ganges  of the Mile-End. Mile-End is the name of my neighborhood. And Ganges because it often seems to me that all roads meet at this particular grocery store, that it is a kind of holy river where you can dip yourself and feel cleansed. It’s not unlike a popular café only it’s an grocery store, the kind of grocery store which when compared to the soccer fields that now pass for grocery stores is very small. It offers one or two choices for each product not 333 and mostly what it offers is the basics. You won’t find too much comfort food at PA. It’s a real meat & potatoes kind of place. What I like is that it’s unpretentious and basic. The tellers are friendly but not too friendly. The fruit and vegetables are acceptable though one should never ever take the stuff that’s on sale because most of the time it’s rotten, the meat is supposedly decent (I don’t eat much meat, sometimes chicken, grain fed only) and so as you see there’s nothing special about PA yet curiously everyone who is anyone comes to this grocery store. No matter what time of day you go  it is full of people with lineups at the checkout weaving their way back into the aisles. It’s the kind of place where an agoraphobic would go out of her mind.

If you go to PA in the middle of the afternoon on a week day it is full of single women looking for a good leg of man. It is one of my favorite times to go. Not because I am looking for a leg of man but because the combination of loneliness and food is something I understand. I love to see what others put into their baskets. Sometimes I’ll choose one person and follow them discretely (sometimes not so discretely) through their entire trajectory just to see what they pick up. Most things are the things I imagine they wrote  on their list: vegetables, fruit, meat and potatoes, rice, cheese and yogurt, tomato sauce, milk and cereal but always no matter who they are, there is that one thing that no one writes on their list, what I call ‘soul food’, the one thing we don’t know until we see it: chocolate, ice cream, baklava, cinnamon eggos; and always they hesitate a little before placing it in their basket and that is how I know because I see them debating with themselves as to whether or not they really should and then plunk it lands in their cart. It’s like that moment when two lovers who when they know they have so many other things they should be doing decide to have sex instead. And the  diabolical thing is that these ‘soul foods’ are all displayed during the final stretch before the checkout where because of the lineups you have plenty of time to be tempted but not enough time to resist.

Then there is the check-out which is always long so I take this time to covertly study the faces of everyone else as they wait in line trying to see if I can guess who will lose their patience first. I’ve gotten good at spotting them because they are the ones who give the impression that they are in complete charge of their situation and it’s quite obvious that they are not. This has got to be one of the most perverse pleasures of an introvert, someone who derives so much pleasure from bearing witness to the social pathologies in their local grocery store.

Other than going to PA I spend almost all of my time in my room and I don’t have many friends which I suppose is my fault because I could have more friends if I made more of an effort. Hypothetically that is! No one, not even me, knows what I do with all my time. I think of time like paper clips and elastic bands and those little wiry things you use to tie up bags: where does it all go? For the most part I read books and write which I suppose is why D thought that blogging would be a good thing for me. The verdict is still out. But as you see I’m trying. But I still can’t hear you breathing and I still haven’t peed in my underwear. In a way blogging doesn’t seem much different from writing in my journal which I do every day. The reason I enjoy writing in my journal is that I know that no one not even me will ever read it again. But I know that’s not entirely the same as blogging because even if I can’t see you I know that hypothetically you might be there.

When I say ‘you’ I’m not sure who ‘you’ is. I mean, who am I writing this to anyway? I suppose if I had hundreds of people who read my blog than it might feel more like a stage. This feels more like standing behind the curtain and performing without really knowing if there is anyone on the other side. I ask myself why would anyone want to read someone else’s diary? McLuhan wrote something about the medium being the message. If so than perhaps a blog is a technological pseudo-social medium for which the true purpose is to give us the opportunity to write something to ourselves, a monologue disguised as a dialogue. I think the only way to know for sure is by doing it. Didn’t Kant say something about experience being essential to understanding? Well, if I ever understand anything I will let ‘you’ know.

Since I don’t read blogs myself I suppose it is presumptuous of me to think that anyone would want to read mine? But that’s not entirely true. The part about not reading blogs that is. I read benigngirl, a blog by Mo and I really like it. She doesn’t know me but she is a good friend of D’s and he lets me know whenever she posts something new. I like the way she sees the world. I think she too lives a life which is very secret even if it looks like she is sharing her life in her blog. I think her sense of humor is a delight and her take on things is absolutely brilliant. Mo is an artist. I think of her as someone for whom everything she does is part of her being an artist. For Mo, being an artist isn’t a day job! I too think of myself as being an artist and my art is my life. I think living one’s life is the only real art there is. I know that artists are also those who paint, sing, dance, write, make films and mosaics but those are only the products of an artist’s life. I agree with Otto Rank in Art & Artist when he argues that the artist and her art are inseparable. I think Mo understands this. Her life is a magnificent piece of art. She might say a piece of work but I think it’s the same thing. Her mosaics are beautiful and so beautiful that it is easy to miss the message which I think is sublime. One day when I win the lottery I will buy one of Mo’s mosaics and then I can look at it every day. But Mo’s mosaics are not Mo’s real art. They are a reflection of Mo’s real art which is Mo. At least that is what I think. I don’t know if Mo would agree and I hope I don’t upset her by writing that. I mean she doesn’t even know who I am. I’m Mo’s secret admirer. When your life is a secret everything you do is a secret.

When I say 'you'Back to ‘you’. I’m beginning to understand a little of why D thought I would like blogging. It has to do with this secret that is my life. More than anything else in the world I love to write but when I think of somebody reading what I write I panic. It’s that spider/mother thing. When I write I write for myself and not anyone else. I envy those who are able to write with an audience in mind. I can’t do that. It makes me pee in my underwear. I understand why Kafka wanted his friend to burn everything he wrote after he was dead. I didn’t know Kafka personally so I don’t really know why he asked his friend to do that but I can see myself asking D to do the same thing. That may sound like I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself but that’s not true; I just don’t have confidence in my public self. I know that sounds like a contradiction and it is. I am the most contradictory person I know but then I don’t know many people

I can’t imagine not writing. For me it’s like breathing. One of the reasons I like writing is because it’s safe. (My childhood wasn’t safe. Writing was the only place where I could say what I wanted without the risk of repercussions. Maybe I will say more about that another time. About my unsafe childhood. Or maybe I won’t. I don’t want to get into trouble!) It’s strange but the only time I feel really good in my own skin is when I am writing. Even when I am writing this blog and I know that I’m not writing anything profound or sublime but still it makes me feel well within myself because just the act of putting down words, sincere and honest words, feels really good. I would say that it makes me feel holy. I think when an artist creates, when they are in the act of creating and having fun creating (and even when it’s not so much fun!) they feel holy. I don’t know if every artist would agree with me but it certainly makes me feel holy. It makes me feel closer to God whoever She is.

But the thought of someone else reading what I write terrifies me. I am an agoraphobic writer. (‘agora’ is the Greek word for marketplace! I have a fear of taking my work to the market!) I never think about publishing. Sometimes I tell myself that I should think about it and D tells me that I should think about it but the thought of someone else other than me reading my work makes me go all rigid and I start writing like someone in grade 3 about to recite a poem but who pees in their underwear instead. I know that I can’t stop writing. If I stopped I would die. Sometimes I would like to stop and do something more useful with my life but I know that I can’t. It’s crazy but that’s how it is. When I think of going public I become terrified that what others might say will force me to stop writing and I don’t want to die. Not yet! So I think that when I do die I will ask D to burn everything. That is if I die before D. He is older than me but I am crazier so it’s an even toss! I know it’s wrong to be so concerned about other people think. D says it’s neurotic, that it doesn’t matter what other people think but I tell him that what other people think is powerful enough to start a war or destroy the planet. It does worry me what other people think! But he is probably right. I think that is why he wants me to blog. It’s like going public with a brown paper bag over my head. It’s worth a try even if it is only hypothetical.


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