Saturday, February 23, 2013

You don't even know me (1)

You don't know anything about me.

You know that I am forty-six years old. I feel like I should be younger because I have wasted years. Some people have wasted minutes, some wasted hours, some wasted days. I have years.

I do not mean I feel younger than I am. Everyone always  says they feel they are the same person they were 20 years ago. I have no idea who I was 20 years ago. You have no idea who you were either. You just feel like you must be the same person because that is what feeling like you are a person is like. It doesn't seem to you that anything "inside" has changed. But it always changes. It changes moment to moment because what you are is the chatter of dancing electrons, no more, no less, and you are interpreting yourself as being. But you are not. You are a mass of impulses, emotions, images and impressions that convinces itself that it has a continuing meaning just because the face in the front of the head that carries the brain it lives in looks the same from one moment to the next.

You know I was born in a country town in Essex. I always felt an affinity with it. When I was a child, I pretended I was player-manager of its football team and it played in a first division that was full of teams that were from places that do not have big football teams. Braintree would play Braintree United, Leatherhead, East Ham, Bath Spa, Penpol, Hayle City.

(I would draw up fixture grids and fill them in by throwing dice. Somehow Braintree did well always. I do not believe in magic. Do I?)

Penpol is the primary school I went to. Hayle is not a city.

Sometimes I wished it was. I would compare its population with that of other towns, as though the size of the town you live means anything. I spent hours poring through my gazetteer. It was part of the Pears Cyclopaedia.

I learned the names of all the scientific elements, the winners of the FA Cup throughout history, the kings and queens of England. Facts that did not make a narrative. I think this is why I do not have a good imagination for stories. I prefer what it is.

You know I taught myself to read by reading the encyclopaedia that my mum had been conned into buying by a travelling salesman. It was like Britannica, but although I don't clearly remember, I am fairly sure it wasn't. There were maybe 30 volumes, with pictures, maps, diagrams.

I could read maps endlessly. I still do. Sometimes I see the name of a town and look it up on Google Maps. I zoom in till I can read suburb names. Then I might pick a road and "follow" it out of town. I will see where it goes. See the towns it runs through and past.

I do not turn on the satellite view. I don't look up photos. I don't care what anywhere looks like. I do not even believe that photos are true representations of places, so how can I want to look at them? I only enjoy the truth.

When I read a book, if it rings false, I cannot enjoy it. It is not a problem that I know it is not true. It is only the pretence of truth I care about.

I have never known that about myself until I wrote it. I trust that that idea is right. Because I am wise now. I am so wise you could bottle me and sell me to fools. I know when I tell myself something and it feels like the truth, it is the truth.

I know what you're thinking. Monkey, you have become so good at lying to yourself that you no longer know when you're doing it.

What did you think wisdom was if it is not exactly that?

I am done for now. There'll be more but right now I'm sick of writing.

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