Thursday, April 18, 2013

on writing my life history

Today I was in a book store waiting for a friend. I was browsing aimlessly and just randomly picking up books and reading their first sentences. One of those introductions went like this
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me..."
Catcher in the Rye

I almost laughed out loud since it felt like the universe was just sending my thoughts back at me. I thought "The universe has a sense of humor after all. I'm happy that the universe is not always a sucker for tragedy."  
My sentiments exactly, I thought, when I read the lines. Both the genre requirements (who cares about the profession of my parents for god's sake. what does it say about me really?) and the contents of my life history bore me to death. For some reason or another I get this feeling, "Uhm, I think I have seen this movie before" Go figure, right? :-) And don't get me started on the pressure to be politically correct and ethically perfect. What a bore. The truth is perfection is death itself. Those tellable things are not what make a difference. What cannot be told according to a blueprint is the atoms of our particularity. As I was thinking of this I remembered a passage from one of my favorite books, The Little Prince, again, my sentiments, exactly I thought.   

"If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?" Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.
If you were to say to the grown-ups: "I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof," they would not be able to get any idea of that house at all. You would have to say to them: "I saw a house that cost $20,000." Then they would exclaim: "Oh, what a pretty house that is!"
Just so, you might say to them: "The proof that the little prince existed is that he was charming, that he laughed, and that he was looking for a sheep. If anybody wants a sheep, that is a proof that he exists." And what good would it do to tell them that? They would shrug their shoulders, and treat you like a child. But if you said to them: "The planet he came from is Asteroid B-612," then they would be convinced, and leave you in peace from their questions.
They are like that. One must not hold it against them. Children should always show great forbearance toward grown-up people.
But certainly, for us who understand life, figures are a matter of indifference. I should have liked to begin this story in the fashion of the fairy-tales. I should have like to say: "Once upon a time there was a little prince who lived on a planet that was scarcely any bigger than himself, and who had need of a sheep . . ."
To those who understand life, that would have given a much greater air of truth to my story."

"How old is she? What is her native language? What is her gender?" empty questions with empty answers, I want to begin my life story like this "I'm very thirsty and bored. Do you have anything to quench my thirst and end my boredom?"

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