The Thickness Of Your Skin

The little icon in the top right hand of the Blog template says ‘+write’.

It’s a kind of command, and it’s true that without some sense of a command there would be no Blogging.

The command comes from the software itself, which of course wants to be used, and lives to want to be used.

As a Blogger, you might hope that there is some kind of demand or command from a few people out there who might actually read what you are writing.

And then there is also a kind of command from within, a stimulus to keep on blogging, to stick to the implicit promise that you will Blog and Blog regularly and consistently, perhaps at or on a certain day and/or time of the week.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of times when it feels like you have nothing to Blog, to write, to say, or that the kind of mood you are in may lead you to taint your Blog with negativity or share pure self-indulgence that is of little or no value to anyone but yourself.

On such days, I have found that the solution is simply to ‘+write’, i.e. to do as you are told by the software and the template and just keep your fingers crossed (though not of course while you are typing) hoping that something of value will result.

I choose the titles for my posts not when I start to write but when I am done. It seems in the nature of a Blog that is should be free to ramble its way towards its identity and purpose.

It makes me think that perhaps we should choose our own names and titles only at the end of our careers, when we are about to retire, rather than having a name and a title foisted upon us by others and by a certain imposed framework within which we have to work and live.

It’s been a painful and difficult week or so, with lots of illness around me, and threatening to get inside me too. Nietzsche, who tried to affirm everything it seems, suggested that may only be through illness that we get to encounter who we are, as it is in and through illness that we lose touch with all that we habitually are, and then, in recovering, strive to return to the ‘right’ and ‘well’ person we think we should be. In the process, Nietzsche might also say, we gain a special insight into the difference between our Being and our Becoming.

When you are ill, and when people around you, that you love and care for are ill, it seems as though a curtain has been torn back, as if your own skin and the skin of the world has been removed, and suddenly you are able to see a reality that is at all times all around us but which we necessarily veil, mitigate and mediate in order to be able to live our lives.

This also shows us what we call ‘our lives’, and how full of positivity they actually are on a daily basis, a positivity that constantly manages to reconcile, deal with, balance and manage much of the true complexity, difficulty and near-impossibility of being human.

Having the curtain pulled back and life unveiled in all its complexity, and feeling and seeing the pain in the world seeping into us and pouring out of us, is a frightening experience. We need to keep our guards up. We need our skin, our mitigation, our mediation, and without it we are useless to ourselves and to others.

Artists might like to think of ourselves as ‘thin-skinned’ or unusually sensitive, but we have all met artists who are ‘tough as old boots’ and equipped with attributes usually associated with the Rhinoceros.

I guess we each need to negotiate this individually, i.e. considering to what extent we want and need to acknowledge the truth and reality of pain in ourselves and in the world, as well as the degree to which we need to deny that reality or how we justifiably keep it at bay.

Ultimately, it may be that our very practices, this writing here, that photograph there, that poem, that painting, performance or video is in fact a construction built at this very interface between self and world, good and bad health, pain and positivity, unbearable realities and is our way of getting-by.

It may just be that our art is in fact our ‘skin’.




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