Friday, January 27, 2017

Dear Diary,

It's getting late, Andrew Neill's 'it's getting late gag' late.

I'm at work still. I'm aiming to go to the Tate Modern today. I wanted to tell you about the meaning it has for me.

cut to 2006

It's 2006. I'm writing in some hushed semi fictional whisper to intimate the poignance of the moment. I am at Dr. Mar****'s ****** class. We are on a course trip on Modernism, the Avant Garde and pop art. We go to the Tate Modern and then the Tate Britain. If I'm honest I forgot much of the Tate Britain. I was feeling very depressed. We went to London from Bristol, and back to London on the same day. It was the first time I went to London without seeing my family. This was heavily upsetting for me and I never told them that I came to London. I knew their response: Why didn't you come visit? They had jobs at the time and it was only a short day trip. What could I have done?

Nobody talked to me on the bus. I didn't really have friends on the course, hell I hardly had friends at university who gave a shit if I disappeared for months on end who would point it out. Everything was really heavy. Iwas worried about the future. My anxiety was so heavy that I could not even think about the future. It was an empty void that felt worse than death. Every morning during that year I would wake up with a panic attack. My only relief was to wretch myself until I was ready to face the day.

It is just over 10 years later and I still find it -- difficult to remember. Difficult that I am the same person. Difficult in realising how upset I was and how much I was suffering. I sometimes imagine if I'd talk to myself back then, could I have changed the outcome? I may be wiser then, but I was stubborn then. Future me would attempt to wisen stubborn me. Stubborn me wouldn't listen, buried and indoctrinated by the depression and anxiety narratives. I wouldn't try to tell my past self to do anything different.

There was a moment at the Tate Modern which I re-lived over and over in my mind. I was really cold, I had these cheap mountain climbing shoes that were slowly breaking apart. But my anxiety meant that I was too afraid to try anything new and thinking of getting new shoes created a wave of anxiety: where would I get it from? How much would it be? How long would it last? What if they didn't last long enough? What if they cost too much and don't last long enough? What if they don't stay dry? All of these kinds of thoughts even just the thought of the thoughts made me anxious. So I just stayed with those ugly shoes. I had a very specific set of clothes back then (sound familiar?) but those clothes were borne out of many different anxiety rituals. To keep them would cause less anxiety than to change them.

It was a cold day if I recall. I was lonely. I was in the supposed city I belonged to but I could not feel at home if I didn't see my brother or my sister or my parents. I was alone in a distinct way. I was an individual.

I had moments like these, realising that I was an independent individual, independent from what school I went to, who my friends were and what university or course I did. These things made me anxious, these things made me feel I did not have an identity outside of what I belonged to. I felt so distant and separate from the things I used to belong to.

I realise now that these were birthing pains of a sort. The anxiety was a birthing of my individuality and who I would become. I'm not saying this birthing process is the same for everyone, fuck, its probably not the same for anyone else.

Only with my hindsight now do I realise the power of that event. I'm sitting on the cold balcony, wind going up my legs. Those trousers and shoes not suitable for being in London in the wind. I was alone with nobody to talk to, all the other people who went on the  trip had mates they were lunching with, texting and things to do and people to talk to.

I was on my own. In London, my home. I was on my own, in London, without my family. I was on my own, in London without my friends who also were from London. I was on my own, without an identity or a sense of self. I was on my own, discovering a sense of self and who I am. I was on my own, understanding the birth of Romanticism, the Avant Garde and the many movements in art - the 'great man' of Art, pop art and the death of the Aura. Adorno's culture industry and his weird thoughts about Naziism. I was alone in London. Without my family, friends, without the things I felt I belonged to. I was on my own in London with my thoughts.

That was how it was going to be. I am alone, with my thoughts. I am my thoughts. With my thoughts, I am.

That moment on the balcony was a moment of self realisation. At the time it was an intensely lonely and painful set of confusing thoughts and realisations, loneliness, sadness, emptiness. But then, the thoughts were there. The ideas.

I'm going to the Tate Modern tonight. I'll be revisiting myself who I left on that balcony and I will show him who I am now.


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