Narcissism, kind of

 

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fabulous photo by Eli Wright

“All art is autobiographical; a pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”

–Federico Fellini

I love this on multiple levels.  Let’s accept that through art-making we are trying to figure ourselves out.  Our stories, our context, our feelings. When we put our work into the world, we are asserting our individual importance. Let’s confess that we find our own points of view interesting and consider them worthy of other people’s attention.

Is this making you cringe? Don’t cringe.  It’s true.  You are interesting, your voice is worthy.  I give a shit about what you have to say.  And if you’re here reading this, you obviously give a shit about what I have to say.  It’s cool for us both to acknowledge that.

But also realize that when we turn the telescope the wrong way and find ourselves larger than is reasonable, we take responsibility for things that are not ours.  Blame that is too large to be placed on us, whispers that are really not about us, experiences that are really quite universal begin to feel very personal.  It can get heavy.  It can get preposterous.

It’s important to find that middle ground–both understanding that there is value to recording our individual experience of the world, and yet simultaneously remaining aware that we aren’t alone.

 

This opening line came from my dear friend, Cheyenne, who suggested it as a joke…I think.  Maybe it was a hint.  It’s been rattling around in my brain ever since.  I’ve been throwing some tough challenges your way in the past few weeks (and you have risen to them, as my inbox can attest).  So this is the one for today.  Your opening phrase is, “As a narcissist, I…”

Write several stanzas that begin with that sentence.  Think of how much guilt and blame and paranoia you harbor as a result of the myopic outlook on the world that puts you at its center.  What are the things you cannot let go of? Have fun with this, poke at yourself, own the absolute ridiculousness of some of the shit you get caught up in.

As a narcissist, I am convinced that my absence will be the cause
of my children’s future unhappiness, poor decisions, drinking habits
my presence will be the cause of their short tempers, cheating
at board games, emotional immaturity.

As a narcissist, I know that when I leave people who know me
in a room together, all they can do is recount my flaws
or worse, pity me.

As a narcissist I am certain that the misery of the people around me
is because of something I said or didn’t say, that the scowl on the face
of the lady passing in the hallway is the result of how stupid I look in this shirt

(and so on)

 

 

 

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