I'm sitting here at my computer with a bowl of
cereal and a knife. Opera is taking too much memory,
and the broken VM of Linux 2.4 isn't helping. My bank account
is missing $150, and I have no idea where it went---I
certainly didn't spend it. The university is charging me $50 more
than they said they would for tuition. There is a very good chance
that, thanks to that $200, my rent check (which I mailed out well
over a week ago) will bounce.
If none of my pending checks go through until after I deposit my
paycheck tomorrow, I'm still about $50 short. So
I called home to ask for money.
Why am I talking about money? It's not about that. If school, the
apartment, everything fell apart, I could go back to the hills,
live with my mother and stepfather, get a menial job that pays
more than my current one does, and have more books than
I could ever hope to read. It's not that.
I hoped to be independent. I went for a few years without much
monetary support from my family. Then I get an apartment. I have no
scholarship next semester, and the government
decided to stop giving me a Pell grant because my mother makes too
much money now (that's news to me, not to mention her). Then I got
an apartment. All my furniture, most of the first
month's utilities---really just about everything except the
rent---was paid for by my family. I feel
like a worm. A leechy worm.
Why am I talking about independence? It's not about that. It's not
about anything. The world is bright and happy out there, and I'm
sitting in my dark room in front of my darkly glowing monitor
whining. It all seems so unreal.
But the knife is real. I don't want to die, don't want to rip open
veins (down, not across), don't want Michael to come home
and find my carcass slumped in a swivel chair. It's not about
death, it's about rest. I am tired, eternally bored and
tired. Baudelaire was right in positing
ennui, the Spleen, as the fundamental destructive force of the
Baudelaire went mad before he died. So did
succumbed to epilepsy. Michel Foucault's immune system gave
up. My grandfather was crushed by a falling tree. If I were to
kill myself, I don't think I, or my ghost, could ever look anyone in
the face again. Foot before foot, eyes cast down. Just like now.
The knife is real. I can feel it. It is not an instrument of
destruction, but rather one of rebirth. Just a tiny incision,
less than a millimetre deep, and I feel it all flooding back. I
can breathe. I'm going to start sounding kind of Lacanian here, but the knife (or razor blade, or broken
glass, or whatever your favourite toy is) is like an inverse
mirror. The mirror stage establishes a definite boundary
between the I and the Other. By seeing myself in a mirror, I
distinguish myself from Mommy, from Mommy's womb, from Mommy's
breast, from the rushing throng, from the nodegel. The mirror
gives me identity, but at a very dear cost.
The knife is real in a way that the mirrored human being can never
be. You see, this skin, it above all else partitions the world
into a me and a not-me. This skin is what keeps in all these
chemicals that are making me tired, bored,
d*pr*ss*d. It doesn't take much to restore
pre-conscious contentedness: a quick little slash in a
non-obvious place, and all the outside comes inside and trades
places with me. Think of it as small-scale trepanation; I have
my own demons to let out. With this mark, my topology is
fundamentally altered, and that is really the important part.
Not fucking my mother and killing my
father. Not the id, ego, superego, trinity in the age of the
profane. Just that one universal dichotomy, me and not-me.
Think of the cutting as Deconstruction: I transcend the binary
opposition and the whole of Western logocentrism by seeking out the
différance that resulted in the establishment of the opposition in
the first place.
I rinse off the blade and go about my life. It should heal within a
week or so.