I rarely read novels and I think it shows in the way I write. I appreciate the concept of novels and I’m glad there are people out there taking the effort to churn them out, but why should I have to be one of the ones wading through them? Why can’t other people carry out that duty? From each according to their blah, blah, to each according to their other blah, blah.
I once ate half a slab of flaming Chateaubriand. I didn’t know what Chateaubriand was. I only knew it cost more than a week’s budget, so had to be good. I was assisted by Anitra “she who feasts upon flesh with me” Freeman. The whole thing was almost as big as one of our heads. Not saying which one (kind of a toss-up, really). (OK, mine.) It was tasty, but after it was over, I felt I’d have got just as much out of a sushi assortment plate.
I like ridiculously short stories. I’m talking 200 words or less. If something has to be long, I’d like it to come in tiny pieces I can pick up and put down.
I feel much the same way about other writing. I don’t trust a history book that has an overly coherent narrative. The more the story hangs together, the more it feels like a historical novel. Reality is disjointed.
I react similarly to other art forms. I don’t want to see the one definitive view of the subject of a painting. Go ahead and show her from three sides at once, Picasso. Or from eight compass directions, Mr. Dali.
Show me the inside and outside of the kangaroo at the same time, even if it’s just schematic. I can enjoy each view as part of a disjointed description — which, out of honesty, does not try to be the one supreme representation of the subject.
I’m seriously biased in favor of pluralism.
I can’t understand why people feel compelled to find the one best of everything. There should be multiple bests. Look under your seats, people! You get a best! You get a best! Everybody gets a best! Paying the taxes on them will bankrupt you all!
Speaking of taxing, I have a motto, “One personality to serve you since 1991.” It’s both true and false. Everything that matters ought to be true and false and a little bit of neither. Truth is disjointed.
The true part is I felt I had a dual personality starting just before my third birthday, and it was continuously evident (to me) until age 7.
Then one personality became dormant most of the time, only popping out and causing confusion sporadically. I recall problems at age 12, 13, 14, 18, 35 and 42. That last was in 1991, when it seemed a sort of fusion happened. Hence the motto. The truth of it resides in my subjective view of the evolution of my two identities as I (we) experienced them. That and it’s funny — for me, fortunately — which counts for a measure of truth in itself.
When I speak of confusion resulting from breaks in the dormancy, I don’t mean between the two of us. We were close. It was other people who got lost. We were brothers. We knew what we had going on.
That other people couldn’t adapt was the taxing part.
How is it all false, then? Well, it’s a supreme narrative, isn’t it? OK, obviously the subjective experience played a role in making me biased toward pluralism. You saw that coming, surely. But that same pluralism tells me I was as much one person formed from two as two persons within one.
Dual personality disorder and more generally multiple personality disorder have been studied from all angles for decades. So far as I know there is no consensus about whether dual personality is a sensible philosophical or psychological construct.
However, one thing is remarkably clear: In most instances where it is reported, there is usually evidence of severe and repeated child abuse.
Does it matter that the two or three or four personalities a child has are not really divided, but are actually just one expression of an experience of continued horror?
Does Picasso’s painting Guernica appear disjointed to you? I hope so. Violence slices and tears. Violence divides.
Though, it is there.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at drwes (at) realchangenews (dot) org
Read more in the Aug. 12-18, 2020 issue.