By Simon Barget
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I have no fixed abode. I float about in boundless space with all my possessions, my keepsakes, not a care in the world. But everyone needs me. And I forget how much they need me until something happens, something trivial, inconsequential, something in the order of my foot brushing against a leaf, maybe nothing actually happens at all, but something clicks in my mind, something shifts, and then all of a sudden I recall how overwhelming their need is, how overwhelming and dominant, how extreme, and the realisation is so full and all-encompassing, it is just so stark, that if I had to confess my true feelings on the matter I might admit to feeling a little silly that it had passed out of my attention for so long, because when a realisation is so bracing, how can I possibly forget?
When met with the realisation though it’s like a loaded gun in the face, or like knowing the gun was there but somehow forgetting about it, or like knowing the gun had been there but somehow deceiving yourself into thinking that it wasn’t really a gun anymore just something related but marginally different, but in such a way that even though it still looked very much like a gun, this small change had sufficed for it to be picked up as something else by the awareness, just a steel cylinder with a handle for example -- a steel cylinder and a handle are themselves not remotely threatening -- and perhaps the whole endeavour had come about very slowly, perhaps the dissimulation had got through because it had been so incremental and slow-moving, so subtle, and after so many years what had started out as just a tiny misting of the view, the perception of the untainted realisation of the gun, had become much more blurred, much more complete in its blurriness, but all being told, the realisation -- when it comes -- is like the most destabilising and shunting wake-up call you could ever receive, it is so many very bracing loud things exploding all in one go, and yet it is also so unceremoniously quiet and can hardly be picked up on and you could miss it and you do miss it, but now I am seeing the gun I am very much seeing it right here and now, right in front of my eyes, and I’m really only thinking how stupid I could have been to not have noticed the obvious ever-so ‘gun-like’ gun pointing right at me, I am only thinking about how in the world I could possibly have missed it.
And what is it that they are all wanting and needing? I mean what is it beyond me that they want, because I know they want me -- that much is clear -- but it feels like there’s something beyond me they’re after, in other words I feel that once they get me in their hearts or their beds or a mish-mash of internal organs, one piece of me in each, or if they happen to snag me in the passenger seat of their very functional car ready to inhale me all in go, if I happen to pass them on the street or just walk right up to their face, or if they’re lying in bed and I happen to drop in through the wall or however I happen to choose to be there, and however they happen to choose to secrete me, I feel that all of this isn’t quite good enough, and then I think that part of the realisation I described above is that they want more than there is to have, more than I have to give, and then perhaps a big part of that realisation is that it irks me, the fact that everything I am is not a shred less of anything than they need, and yet, it still isn’t good enough, even though I can see their desperation and how effectively I soothe.
After all these years I still have no idea how I get around or if I even move at all; perhaps I am perfectly static and just inhabit every bare place you can mention, and if that’s the case I also have to admit to being a little disappointed that when I’m required, which is all the time, I don’t have to do anything to be needed, I don’t have to move, and nothing has to change for me to exert my effect and that’s perhaps why I forget myself completely and next to having no particular place to live, I can hardly say that I exist in my own right at all.
I don’t really know what I am. I would like to know. I would like to know so that I can understand myself. I would like to be able to compare and contrast. No one else seems to care as long as they get enough of me and they get more than they’re willing to convey. Why don’t they want to know? Sometimes, if not most of the time, they don’t get any of me at all, or they get me in the background, the half-baked me, the watered-down imitation, and yet they never ever ask me what I am, they never stop to engage, or if they do, they just blurt out dross, and more to the point, they’re not the least bit fazed by my half-arsedness, they take me as I come, however which way I happen to show up in that particular moment.
Ultimately, I wonder why I am needed at all. All the time I have been there, or perhaps not, and things have taken their course, the world has gone on undaunted. No one has noticed my absence just as no one remarks on my presence. I can only conclude that my efforts at self- knowledge are moot. There is no point me knowing what or who I am. It is somehow known, but there is just no one to know it.
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the existential dilemma, who
the existential dilemma, who am I? What am I? yes I'd like to know the answer to that too.
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Nice to see anther piece from
Nice to see anther piece from you Simon. I hope you've seen the annoucement about the virtual reading event? We did think about a real life one as you suggested, but then omicron came along.. Would be lovely to see you on Zoom!
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