Family Photos and Changing Memories

A black and white photograph caught my eye. I could see myself in my mother, her confident – almost arrogant – expression, large white petals of flowers crowned over her head and the long veil dropping over the side of her wedding dress. “I want to see you in the same veil when you get married,” my mother smiled.

I have spent the last year trying to get to know my parents. For most of my adult life, my relationship with them has been tumultuous at best, frustration and anger often hovered like a dark cloud over us and all due to one significant barrier; our inability to communicate. It was not only language – since they do not speak English – but their identification to a paternalistic culture that I could never relate to. Memories of the way my father mistreated my mother were stored in my mind and there it remained as it prevented me from finding forgiveness and moving on. Read More

The Facsimile

“Wake up!” she cried, slapping his cheek.
A lifeless head, still, limp.
“I am here.” Startled, she slipped.
Taken aback.

A facsimile? She turned to this galley slave,
His half body standing out from the grave,
Shovel over his shoulder, insolent gaze.
Smooth as tarmac.

She looked back at the lifeless soul,
His red lips, green eyes, etched into cuneiform
Across his sinless face. Cold, but warm.
Hair jet black.

“That part of me is now dead,” snorted the renege,
He shovelled deeper and deeper as he digged,
Raining black moulded loam, his arms a drilling rig.
Dirt track.

“A grave for who?” He disappeared,
His pride, his vanity, the hubris all engineered
His futile end when his soul was auctioneered.
Memorial plaque.

Khalil Gibran: Broken Wings

Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow. Solitude is the ally of sorrow as well as a companion of spiritual exaltation.” ~ Broken Wings

Sometimes, very briefly, I wish I could empty my identity, to dissolve any sophistication of thought and be mentally frozen like most of society around me who seem content living within these false facades and who dumb themselves down until they actually forget how to use their own minds, just so this heartache could end.

The impossibility to find a friend seems almost obvious now, someone at the same level  as me, reading the same page. I can’t read backwards. The most dangerous in our society tend to be the most ignorant and I can’t risk being hurt again, but the arid desert in front of me is frightening, the mirage of my own corpse standing in the hot distance singing captivating tunes of death. Read More

M. Stirner: Real Love and Egoism

“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of everyone of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”

~ R.W Emerson

Erich Fromm states that all people are more or less narcissistic along a spectrum where sometimes at severe levels of malignancy to more passive forms that are covert, such as associating with ‘popular’ individuals that indirectly enables one to receive the congratulations and attention that they desire. While narcissism is born by a strong vulnerability to low self-esteem that paradoxically causes an inability for empathy and an intense need for admiration, it is a person or mind who perceives the outside world in a way that is not real or present. Read More

Reality Is Just A Story

Our conception of reality is regulated by language that enables us to explain and articulate the dichotomy between our inner feelings and personal responses interacting with the expectations and ideas of our social environment. Ethics is an example of this interaction, but some would argue that our motivations remain inherently selfish and that moral behaviour is willed by self-preservation rather than empathy. It is a very lonely domain where we are essentially separate from the world around us despite being materially and physically connected.

As most of our understanding is conditioned – where we are prompted to respond or react to what we have been taught as right or wrong – how we interpret experience is modeled not precisely on what we feel but rather what we are told to feel, automatically initiating feelings of fear or anxiety or even happiness when we think we are doing what is wrong or right. In psychology, this triptych is explained in the Freudian model of the psyche where the ego – like language – functions as the mediator between our raw, innate drives that conflicts with the superego or our moral conscience as enforced by our environment. As most of our lives is dependent on this determined method of ‘thinking’ which is really just automaton prompts conditioned by our social environment, how to think for ourselves, to really interpret and understand our own feelings and experiences lacks capacity.

When we experience anxiety or depression, they are opinions or decisions and ideas that stem from this real self but because the mind has never been independently used before, one cannot explain or consciously understand why you feel the way that you feel. We are told that one way is the ‘right’ way but our feelings or emotions are speaking something else. How do we develop this capacity to articulate and interpret our own experiences and feelings separate from those unconscious prompts that we have been taught to believe we are supposed to think?

Although our minds and our language develops within that determined landscape and therefore much of what we perceive and accept as reality is socially constructed, our brains have the cognitive qualities – imagination and the ability to calculate and reason – to learn and develop new words, education broadening our ability to construct ideas of the world around us independent of our own small environment. We have a chance to transcend that determinism or our initial conditioning and start using language or words as an independent medium to channel these feelings into reality and communicate it to the external world.

Language and how we speak and communicate requires order, the properties in discourse need to follow rules in order to make sense when one speaks, a pattern of logic that can adequately explain in a one-directional arrow of time an experience or an idea. I feeling space cannot words list down happy. For something to make sense, there are language rules that can piece the fragmented together into a sequential order that can make sense of experience. There needs to be a beginning, middle and an end where narratives have a temporal organisation.

Storytelling is the vehicle that enables words to explain our own personal, fragmented experiences into an order that contextualizes this relationship between us and the world. It cohesively patterns and organises who we are into a directional plot that we then understand not only how to explain what we feel and who we are to the world, but also better understand what we want and desire outside of what is socially constructed.

There are many different ways this can be achieved. We may have images that make little sense and therefore drawing it can enable someone to tell a story of why that image is there, to use language to explain and make sense of it. Fictional tales, poetry, metaphors and parables are all symbolic of storytelling that can articulate subjective thoughts a person may have trouble piecing together.

Have you ever spoken to someone who is not really listening to you or does not really understand you? You feel alone. When you tell your story to someone who listens, you are acknowledged, there is value and a real connection. Sometimes, those connections are false, fake, where we present ourselves and explain our stories to fit into the socially constructed landscape because a person has yet to use their own mind and so remain perpetually blocked from ever attaining the cognitive capacity to articulate their own identity.

Whether the properties of this interaction is fictional or real – there is some validity in solipsism – as though fiction and reality are like two magnets that repel one another where we never really connect with anyone, the practice of storytelling is a way to increase and broaden our vocabulary so that we can better explain this relationship between ourselves and the world around us. This, therefore, enables us to understand others and therefore is the beginning of empathy, or appreciating what is moral and valuable and therefore storytelling is the beginning of love.

Storytelling is a form of connecting and explaining experience into a temporal order, developing and broadening our ability to use our imagination that functions as a medium to connect and understand those around us. As we increase our vocabulary, we are strengthened with the linguistic tools to better interpret our own feelings and experiences. The best way to heal, to feel valued and acknowledged, to have a sense of purpose and connection is only possible through storytelling.

The Tree of Life

Her stained toes clutch to the narrow cliff-edge.
Prepared, crumbled stone trickle softly down
the overhang. Tap tap tap, a musical echo drops like
blood from the crucified lesions punctured over her crown. Read More