Saturday, September 10, 2016

Family Spells & Writing

"Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent... On the other hand, it is only because the world looks on his talent with such frightening indifference that the artist is compelled to make his talent important."—James Baldwin.

Stubbornness runs strong in my family. I've only recently seen it in myself; or rather, I've only recently admitted it to myself.[1] I see it in many of my actions wrong—those few times I'm being honest enough to have a handful of regrets—but I also see it in the things I've accomplished. I'm speaking personally here, for the world and I are in violent disagreement about what should be considered an accomplishment and what shouldn't.

But let me pull back from this teenage lament about the uncaring world and focus on my family now, perhaps even apologize to them, for what I've put them through with my own stubbornness and my reactions to how they've tried to direct or coral this stuborn-curse of mine.

I call it a curse because I assume that's how they've always seen it, knew it, and were resigned to it once they realized that I too was possessed with it. One would think that any family with certain histories would have salves and spells to counter this, and my family certainly tried, but it was weak magic and whatever gene or prion inside me that caused this stubbornness was far too powerful  for their attempts. 

And, like I said, given that the outcomes were varied, I imagine the spells—phrases like: "you must do x", "education is important", "college as well" as well as the usual plays on guilt by perpetual disappointment—were not so strong. Again, positive things have come from this stubbornness of mine, and the consequences have not been as horrible as my current state of work-affairs, so they could be forgiven for not having the right chants and spells when faced with my truly advanced condition. I will note that with me, however, with my story, they now have the perfect spell and chant to warn off future generations from this stubbornness. 

Let me steer the topic away from families and their idiosyncrasies, ways, spells, chants, and subcultures and let me focus back on myself and my writing. I suppose you can sense how insufferable my family views me at this point... please bear with me.

Back to the things I write and the uncaring world Baldwin mentioned up top. Much like my family, I'm trying to use spells and chants and texts to try to get a reaction from the world, to see if I can corral it into something useful. I understand that my task is infinitely harder, but I now see the connection, the irony of it all—even if it's not stubbornness but apathy from which I must arouse the world. And, ironically enough, one of the best fuels for this Sisyphean task is stubbornness.

Again, both a fuel and a curse. So I keep writing, keep trying to cast spells with my words and combinations thereof. But now I'm thinking that the stubbornness does not just arise directly from some prion or gene. No, it's always some greater idea, or belief in something that provides its catalyst. So, then, is this a spell cast by someone else? [2] Something more powerful than what my family ever came up with? 

What are your thoughts, and what spells do you see out there in the world? What does your family use against (for) its quirks?

[1] Interesting to see it in the younger members of the family. Coming from them it's cute. Doesn't get so cute when they become older, though.

[2] Don't be too put off by my use of the words spell, it's mainly a psychological phenomenon. 

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