I was a solipsist, to the chagrin of an important boyfriend. I told him I wasn’t sure other people existed, he told me he was afraid I was a sociopath. How do you know, though? Barbara Ehrenreich, in Living With A Mad God, writes about being a solipsist until she was in her early twenties. Then she was overcome with a wave of understanding we were all in a web together, you can’t sneeze without spraying someone, somewhere, somehow.
I was like this, too. I didn’t give a shit about other people and their problems until my early twenties. Or maybe it was that I had no idea how to do anything about them, or that my own sort of existential coming-to-terms with what this world is really like for us was so rough. Teenagers (even I forget, with them every day) are having to accept what this world, and they’re angry, and it isn’t easy, and it doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor or sick or well. It’s still a bitter pill. When I had accepted it, I became all do-gooder, what can I do, like Ehrenreich, I thought, what is the hardest thing I could possibly do well enough and enjoy that it would make the world better when I die?
It is ascension Sunday. It may help me finish the novel I am writing. I know the book is about up and down, Jacob, traffic signals (is that how people write novels, you’re asking, and yes), the part perhaps I was missing was ascension. Suggesting that there is not just our main move we talk about, resurrection, which is dead to live, but another move, from life to something else. We don’t know or understand the other thing. As much as we work on the kingdom of God being here, the Buddhists remind us of this very effectively, there is a far away. Isn’t there?
I am in love with Rebecca Solnit, not solely because she wrote a piece called “Men Explain Things To Me.” Almost everything gets better as you get older, except that men explain things to you more, and your body wears out. Men explain things, indeed. Do I need to stop him? No, I am content with my own off-topic thoughts, or feeling sorry for his solipsism.
Because one book she wrote I loved is called The Faraway Nearby. What is far away is near by (Enneagram four). Longing for something is better than having it.
Our priest today said sometimes you feel God is far away, I do not feel this, sometimes I feel everything is far away. Depressed is more like dead than life, maybe it is life minus, ascension, life plus.
“Ex Machina” is about sin. I know sin is not whiskey or good sex (or bad sex, for that matter), or not paying bills on time (thank goodness) or sleeping late. The only thing I think sin is: treating people like things. And things like things. Treating anything like a thing, that is, without regard and respect. Most importantly, yourself, since that is when it really all goes to hell, pun intended.
I think every man I have ever wanted thought I was a robot, I was thinking, heartily annoyed, are you real? Are women real? Are they things to look at and touch, to tell you you are all right, or are they around when they are around?
It’s really a straight person’s movie. The opposite sex and how much you want and distrust them.
Of course this is how I have thought of every man I have ever wanted: was he real? And how would I know?
People are not real unless they share enough of themselves for you to see that they are, otherwise you must take it all on faith, that they are real, it is a saintly thing to ask. Necessary, and saintly.
Things are bad enough even when we all treat each other respectfully. There are other problems.
We’re all not getting our nails done here in New York City because all the ladies who did our nails were being treated like slaves. We knew this, but we didn’t want to, and now we know or must say, “I don’t read the Times.”
They are all wondering if people will come in. If the governor, and the mayor, all over their places as much as they can be, will mean something. We are walking by all the nail places waiting for the prices to go up. We are buying the drugstores out of remover to use at home.
The whole other set is saying, “Don’t indulge your silly white guilt in not getting your nails done,” but far be it from me to tell people not to feel guilty about participating in things that are wrong. Sure, I feel guilty. It took me a lot and a long time to let anyone help me with anything. I was always on the edge, and frankly, at this moment of my life, it is very good for me to pay someone to physically care for me, I can use it, and my fine motor skills are poor, and when I do my own nails, they don’t look great.
At the end of “Ex Machina” (which is, incidentally, also beautiful to look at), the robot is a murderer and stands on a street corner watching people go by. Studying. Their shadows, their real forms. Out of the cave and all that. And she’s beautiful, and not only did the hero not get to fuck her, he is trapped, may starve to death, while she is out and free to make something of herself.