Morning Pages: 2
Tuesday, 29 August 2017
Making progress. Read Week 1 and Week 2 today. I’ll begin doing the exercises, say, tomorrow. I wonder how long the exercises will take me. I wonder if I should rush ahead, like I do everything in life, or if I should actually let this book take me twelve weeks, (twelve weeks!), to complete.
What will I talk to myself about today?
How about my first argument with the teacher? That’s a good place to start. Cameron recommends not publishing Morning Pages, but keeping them private. There’s an implication that to keep something sacred, one must also keep it private. She also warns against attacks from family, friends and other outsiders who may criticize the process of creative awakening. Sharing Morning Pages, she says, can be self-sabotage.
I believe I understand her advice, and take her warning to heart. I agree with her: for most people, sharing is dangerous, and they are not prepared to face the hostility of a judging world. That hostility, more often than not, is passive aggressive, rather than overt. And it tends to target the heart, rather than the mind.
But I feel called to publish anyways. Not because I disagree with her, but because I agree with her — am I disregarding her advice. The stand I want to take is of baring my soul, and thus opening myself fully to attack.
Creativity — free speech, free thought, free expression — is inherently threatening. In our culture of correctness, we police mistakes, we judge sins, we punish deviance. But ironically, in so doing, our proudly secular culture has made itself neo-religious. Old dogmas have been replaced by new dogmas, but a Catholic doctrine is enforced nonetheless.
What is that doctrine, explicitly? Nobody knows, because it is not written down in a formal manner. At least the Victorians were up front about their prudishness, and manners were a technology whose blueprint was exposed. But we, the Neo-Victorians of the 21st century, have a dress code, have unacceptable topics, unacceptable beliefs, unacceptable forms of expression — but we don’t have the intellectual integrity to call our rules rules, to call our policing policing, or to justify our imperium.
To stand in opposition to culture, all I must do is express myself. If — freely, openly, honestly — I can discover and reveal myself through my art, I will be showing a way that is not the way, and every viable alternative questions the supremacy of the establishment.
Already, I have inured myself to attack. Raised in our sensitive culture, by sensitive parents, I had thin skin. It was our correctness versus their correctness, but what both sides in the culture war have in common is sensitivity and correctness. The radical position is to be strong and incorrect.
Strong, I feel, is the correct antonym for sensitive, in this case, because emotional sensitivity, in our culture, has been confused for emotional weakness.
Sensitivity is strength, or it ought to be a strength: the sensitive man absorbs the experience of life deeply, and powerfully takes it all in.
But we think that, somehow, because he is sensitive, he must also be very easy to injure. That the most common emotional sleight might somehow damage his psyche.
What nonsense! For, the same reason that he is sensitive, he is also tough, that is, strong. You may hurl your worst insults at him, or you may be snide, or you may attack his reputation behind his back, or you may, most dangerous of all, become his fan and his friend, but seek to adjust his course five degrees to the left, or five degrees to the right — to moderate him — and in so doing, from good intention no doubt, you mount an insidious spiritual offense, that, of all strategies, is most likely to subvert.
But insofar as he is sensitive, he will be sensitive to all of this. And insofar as he is sensitive, he will be sensitive to subtlety, and filter it out, so as to maintain his bearing. Above all, he is sensitive to a true north, his true north, which is not your true north, and which is invisible to you, which is invisible to everyone but him — and which he alone must be sensitive to.
The most sensitive thing in our sensitive age is that we are still not sensitive. That is, we are still not sensitive to that which most calls for sensitivity.
That which most calls for sensitivity is our true north, our calling, that silent bidding within a beating heart, that urges action, speech, thought and expression — and urges specifically: this way, this is your way, these are your actions to act, these are your words to speak, these are your thoughts to think, these is your idea, your art, to express; if you do not reveal these to the world, no one will!
If you do not honor this calling, then you are not a sensitive individual. That is, you are not sensitive to that which makes you an individual. If, instead, you are sensitive only to cultural police, then you are a sensitive non-individual, for you have sacrificed your self to the group.
How odd, that in our sensitive culture, we are conformists? How odd, that we are not each following our own way, diverging into a diversity of a thousand and one branching paths? How odd, that when anyone does diverge, their divergence threatens our sensitivity, and we call them “insensitive”? How odd. How odd, indeed.
This perversion of words and meanings is rife in our culture, and it has indeed become so prevalent that we take these distortions and inversions for granted, as a new, unquestioned, normal.
So I am sensitive, but I am strong. I am strong because I am opening myself to more blows, I am welcoming more attacks — and I expect all of these opposing forces to sharpen my resolve, and to clarify my sense of direction.
I am also incorrect. I am incorrect because I have taken one of the branching paths, that path that is my own. As a deviant, I celebrate my own truth — for if I do not champion it, no one will.
And I expect that those dogmatists who claim to have a monopoly on truth will attack me. They will prefer not to attack my truth directly, because then I will engage them in a philosophical contest, which they cannot win. But rather, they will attack me for the audacity of having an individual truth.
Watch! They will say that I am the monopolist, who dares to claim his own truth. Who am I to do so, and what authority is given to me?
What authority is given to them to declare a way for all men? Let men think for themselves! Let them listen to their own hearts to divine their own ways. Let them be sensitive to that which most calls for sensitivity.
What is the true mistake? What is the true sin? What is the true falsehood? What is the true incorrectness? What is the true error?
Let those who attempt to enforce their way on all men confront this question. Let them claim that they have reached an end of history, and that their truth, their understanding of the truth, is universal and final — is not up for further explication or interpretation, and most of all, not open to questioning.
The true incorrectness is to seek correctness, instead of truth. To seek the truth, is to step out on your own quest, and to find your own way. Of this seeking there will be no end, not on this side of time — but through this seeking, there is individual freedom.
So I will publish my Morning Pages.
Even in so doing, I will be celebrating my sensitivity, my strength and my incorrectness. I will be exposing my search itself: my questioning, not just my answers; my thinking, not just my thoughts.
There is another challenge, however, because, in doing so, I will not only expose myself to attack, but I will implicate anyone whom I mention.
If I wish to, say, discuss a challenge with a family member, friend, or team mate — how can I be honest on a public page? This is a challenge. But I think it is a challenge that can be overcome. I can use an old literary device. I can change certain details, such as their name itself, to mask their identity, or shield them from any criticism. In doing so, I’ll move my analysis into an archetypal realm, which will de-personalize it, and probably help me approach the problem with more clarity.
Isn’t this a utility of story? Literature dominates the Classics, because in story, we are able to abstract every aspect of the human experience, and perceive it through the lens of a multitude of personas and perspectives.
If my therapy is to be public, lastly, there is the concern that I myself will not be honest. Lying to others is dangerous, but lying to one’s self is the most dangerous of all. Because if I make a habit of lying to myself, I have made a habit of distorting my reality.
But I have a theory that surveillance only distorts when it is a temporary condition. When surveillance is permanent, pervasive and persistent — when I am exposing myself all the time and in every way — then the distortion is quantum. I might distort my behavior for a little while, but in the long run, I won’t be able to keep it up. If I can keep it up, if I can make my distortions permanent, well, they aren’t distortions any more, are they? They are part of a new me.
And that effect is precisely what I think light does. To share, to make transparent, to bare open — these bring into the light. What is brought into the light, and remains in the light, is permanently altered. Light reveals reality, and when reality is revealed, reality is changed, I think, for the better.
Tomorrow I hope I want to write about all of my various creative projects that I want to undertake, but I don’t seem to have time to do. These frustrations themselves call for further thought, and in inquiring further into them, I hope to find myself taken into a freeing claim.