• mariemiles


"I think of myself as somebody not at home, I suppose. Not at home anywhere, not at home ever. But I think of that as a definition of a writer: somebody not at home, not comfortable in themselves in their supposed lives, in their nation, in their bodies, in everything. There are lots of people who feel very certain about themselves, where they're born, what it means. I never felt that way. Moving between America and England is like a concrete manifestation of a feeling I've had all my life, of not really belonging anywhere. I don't think of that as a negative feeling. To me, it's creative. It's the people who feel that they belong very strongly who put the fear of God into me, to be honest." -- Zadie Smith

I was saying something similar recently; I like being an immigrant because it feels natural to be an outsider. I never felt at home in my homeland, I never saw any land as my home, any group as my group, and I never belonged anywhere. But to me, belonging is not something to wish for; I much prefer the wild, open fields of solitude, the fresh air of uncertainty, the changing landscapes of distance.

The notion of group, of flock, is a hostile one -- it necessarily implies acceptance thus rejection, inclusion thus exclusion, and a set of criteria that is fixed like a wall, unmovable by definition, because of the purpose it serves. The acceptance of the group is sly; it has to do with the protection and reiteration of its own correctness, not the individual's, and it forces one's identity to morph or break to its own natural flow. Any change that happens inside the individual will be scrutinized and rejected if not in conformity to the group - divergent political views, different tastes in music or people, a decision that does not involve the group. The individual cannot reject the group's flow, cannot define the criteria, cannot make exception; only the group can.

I avoid groups. Individuals in group don't think for themselves; they adhere, to this incomprehensible thing that is collective thought. It's the group that thinks, a big amorphous mass of multitudes of voices affirming their similar idea in unison. Then there are the self-aware groups, the ones who know what that type of thinking can do. They also gather together against the flock, against the "pensée unique", in unison, all together they think and agree (because like any other group, they think it's the Truth, not the flock, that unites them) and they reject the ones who only think within the flock, the ones who cannot think by themselves. Ah the misery of being human. The ugliness, the vicious ugly circles of belonging to a species. I reject every and any group, whoever they are, whatever they think, I welcome every idea and every individual, and yet, I'm well aware that staying afar does not make me immune to any of that. But at least, I can butterfly from one idea to another, relatively freely, and make my own immensely vast microscopic web of world, my tiny image made with mirrors, that opens up to all corners of the universe.

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The visual field

One can't write directly about the soul. Looked at, it vanishes. --- Virginia Woolf That's because the act of looking is the soul.

©2019 Marie Deschênes

Semi-retired dancer now living in New York

French poet and snob, with vaguely misanthropic moods yet, to her great despair, an undying hope

in what tomorrow may bring.