I imagine my secretiveness is probably accompanied by a sense of inferiority, both moral and intellectual. It’ll be exaggerated by the inevitable self-hatred that all anorexics seem to manifest, but I reckon it could stem from my (putative) mild dyslexia and concentration problems. I read all the time, but incredibly slowly. My attention flickers constantly away from the page. Nothing seems to sink in. It’s as if each phrase or sentence instantly vanishes from my memory as I register it. I want to re-read and re-read, but then the meaning evaporates even out of individual words – they become meaningless sounds, and I grind to a halt. (Mind you, perhaps this is how everybody experiences reading.)
It’s best to push on, embracing the act of reading despite being all at sea, bewildered by words. Then, at the end, I might have a vague idea of the shape of a story. I am still left with the sense that I haven’t understood it at all, but I’m often able to blag or guess my way through discussion of a text, which suggests I’ve understood it better than I realise.(Even then, it needs to have a coherent narrative. History and fiction is fine, but rule books, instruction manuals, contracts – I’m completely at a loss.)
This was easiest to do when I was ill and living in a state of hysterical incomprehension so complete that it almost amounted to a philosophy of meaninglessness. If nothing makes much sense, there’s no need to dwell, particularly, on the fact that books don’t. You can just get on with them. Anyway, it hardly mattered in comparison to The Hunger.
The blagging is, of course, another form of defensive mask. The declarative self-assurance covers an inner uncertainty. This sense of duality, lack of integrity and psychological dishonesty adds to a lack of reliable identity.
If someone I admire, like Jo, contradicts me, mid-blag, I automatically assume that they are right. After all, my thought processes are pretty fragmentary at the best of times. I take my wrongness so much for granted that it often leaves me nonplussed. “Dammit!”, I’ll think, “wrong again! And I thought that was indisputable!” But I’ll argue my position defiantly, despairingly, to the bitter end, with the ground dissolving beneath my feet. I want to be right! Being right gives you a reassuring sense of solidity. I’m arguing to order my thoughts so I can convince myself, trying to think of reasons why I took up such a nonsensical position in the first place. To admit my error to my companion would somehow be to open myself up to excoriating scrutiny.
Presumably, though, it doesn’t look like this to Jo, who just sees some bloody-minded arse dismissing her opinion.
Incidentally, this deep sense of uncertainty may explain my tediously over-written blogging style. I’m constantly rephrasing the same ideas, searching for le mot juste (like Joseph Conrad!), because I’m not sure how to put things, or even what exactly I’m trying to say. I’m just droning on.