Monday, September 7, 2009

Why Are You So Critical of Everything?

I think my critical nature began like all critiques begin: with doubt. Doubt became my narrative a long time ago: religious doubt, political doubt, sexual doubt. And eventually that doubtful narrative began to tell a new, more coherent story: my own. And I spent a long time very confused because I grasped at this new history driven by the suspicion that ordinary language couldn't tell it. My past appeared frozen in the distance and every gesture of mine signified the negation of that old world and the reach for a new one. Sometimes those gestures resembled flailing, but that was how I lived. And living that way eventually created a new situation for me, one of exuberance and friendship, like a subversive micro-society in the heart of a society that ignored it.

Art was no longer the goal, but the occasion and method for locating my specific rhythm and all the buried possiblities of that time. It was all about the discovery of a true communication, or at least the quest for such a communication. It was also about the adventure of finding and losing it. Usually I was unappeased by much and unaccepting of even more. But I continued looking, filling in the silences with my own wishes, fears and fantasies, driven forward always by the fact that no matter how empty the world seemed, no matter how degraded and used up the world appeared to me, I knew that anything was still possible. And, given the right circumstances, a new world was just as likely as an old one. That was how I experienced faith and hope in my life.

Being critical is simply my systematic questioning of the idea of happiness. If you're looking for something that's not on the market, comfort will never be comfortable. My critiques are my attempt to see just how exciting alienation can be, too. I think eyesight is here as a test to see if we can see beyond it. In a similar way, doubt is here as a test of our vitality.

Once, during a very reckless time in my life, I was in a hospital very close to death. I remember the experience being like a dream in which I was very, very awake and exhilarated because I realized that, finally, something was happening to me. I realized that I had to live as if something actually depended on my actions. I had my first flash of real understanding of the Buddhist ideas of emptiness and impermanence. If this world we are forced to accept is impermanent and everything in it is inherently empty, then everything is possible.

For me, this was the affirmation of a freedom so reckless and unknown, that it amounted to a complete removal of every kind of restraint and limitation. Even now I suspect that ordinary language can't express this story, but it might help you to understand if I put it this way: Being critical is only one face of a multi-faceted life of freedom where I am not afraid to demonstrate the contrast between what life presently is and what it could be.

I hope that answers your question.

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