April 23, 2004

My own life experiences rarely show directly in this blog. Rather, one might see what arises here in written form as a projection twice bisected: once by self-observation, and again by translation into a pixellated medium. It comes down to nothing so much as the attempt to infer the nature of sunlight by observing the shadows cast by clouds, during an eclipse.

A very much non-local relative who is new to me is coming this week with his wife and 10-year-old son for her to give a talk at a conference, to see the country, and along the way to visit his grand-uncle by blood and his wife. ("Grand-uncle": is that a word?) None of them really speak the local language, or any that is likely to be generally understandable here. My part in this currently, besides the meeting itself, is that I should be the one to show them around this place where I happen to live. It is something I enjoy, discovering the personality and interests of others and introducing them to something new to them within those interests. (It is also a reason I have enjoyed coordinating or volunteering at conferences in the past.)

One host passionately hates the visiting relative, based on a determined personal victimhood, an ideology which actively resents all intellectualism and authority, and an unwavering re-creation and sustaining of a 50-year-old memory involving the visitor's mother. The other comes very close to worshipping the visiting relative, for much the same reasons. Both have exaggerated the coming visit and its contexts to the point that they would have made less of a visit by royalty.

(The relative likely does not imagine the extent of this, if it is known at all. I have no idea if the two hosts will be able to sustain what they have of public façade for the duration.)

I spent most of yesterday being screamed at by one host, and being rejected by the other as inadequate to the visiting relative. This is a major reason why my current level of interaction is what it is. Previous and more sweeping offers of help and host and even all cooking were determined to be inappropriate or inadequate, against the necessary "perfect" menu, "perfect" agenda. Even in the current offering of taking the visiting family for a day or two or three and showing them around, it turned out that the way to an approximation of peace was simply to remain silent and later do as I would do anyway. It seems perfection demands that there should be a fixed tour of valid sights, and that I am required to find a way to make those valid sights interesting. In other words, I should decide (based on another’s previous valuation) what had objective value and therefore ought to be interesting to others of a particular social class and walk of life, and make it so.

This inherited environment has been escalating for most of the past six months.

My reputation in one public place which happened to play host some of these negotiations is probably utterly destroyed by now. I could have rescued it readily enough, could have made it "perfect" in the eyes of others (for where else does a reputation reside?). All I would have to do is to become in every aspect that which two others think they would have wished to be, themselves. (Never mind that the two images are simultaneously polar opposites, both of each other and of what is expressed.)

It is artists who have deep and continual conflict in their family relationships. Those who are pulled to a different type of being driven, especially within the supportive structure of an organised religion, tend to have the support of their families. (Who sees the sister who stays behind with her family or takes them into her own new family so that her brother may pursue a vocation?) Or they are all that still lives within what they have of family. Or they abandon what they have of genetic ties altogether.

For me, I choose to retain those ties: something more easily done ever since I accepted within myself that it was not necessary that any other support or even accept my own choices, and that it was equally not necessary to fight against another's attempted control of my decisions for them to remain mine.

They have no one else to turn to. All others, they have progressively alienated. Me, I can at least listen ... without offering advice!

Laugh of the day:

Q: What is the major prerequisite for divorce?
A: Marriage.

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