Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 16 July 2009

Self-Immolation

Renaissance Exhibition Photo

Ground Zero… again

The fire hurts. 

But one can’t really complain if they know that the thing in front of them is fire, saw how much damage the same kind of fire did to someone else and still stepped in anyway – somehow thinking that the previously torched person caused her own pain through her own actions after stepping into a “nurturing community” kumbaya campfire.

Fire touches you and you get burned; especially if you jump in with bare feet and gasoline soaked clothing.  This is not something you should need to have knowledge of in a first-person sense.  Observation is just fine and one definitely does not need a first person answer to “Hey, how bad can it get?”

I long ago came to the conclusion that I am just not that “good” of a person.  [Thank God I’m a philosopher.  Did I say that?  I realize I’m not quite sure I know what the word “good” means.]  I don’t think it necessarily includes self-sacrifice, especially not what amounts to suicide.  What I indeed know, still somehow more important than anything else, is that I would not be able to live with myself if 15-20 years down the line I look at a piece of my artwork and say “I’m not quite sure why I do/did that” in a way much, much more BASIC that what I mean when I say that now.  Barely beginning to ask why.  Not having time until then to ask other artists why.  [“Artist” has definitely become an analogue to the problem of other minds and weakens my resolve that zombies don’t exist.]

I am not strong enough to give that much… to lose myself.  Time enough for that upon death and I’m smelling, tasting, not seeing and sometimes barely breathing death more and more each day.  I admit that I am not unselfish enough to deny the desire to live every specious moment I have left for myself for at least as long as “self” is still capable of experiencing, in a solely human way, the people who have made a positive difference in my life; including her.

I was trying to explain her scenario to someone yesterday.  He said firmly, “Well, it must be her then.”  Of course it was her.  She should not have sacrificed herself “for the greater good” to “help” artists.  I remember standing there [in an “artist” studio in one of the buildings on the huge property that she managed to convince someone to use as an artist colony. Insert really foul string of curse words here] and listening to a couple of people complain about her.  [Christ, I was one of them myself at some point]. One finally rolled her eyes and said, “Let go already!!” They both laughed self-righteously.  I at least made myself say “You do realize that this place would not be here without her.” They had enough grace to look ashamed. 

I don’t know what I was thinking.  Yes, I do.  I can admit it. I said it at the beginning of this post.  I was thinking to myself, “Well, it must be her then.”  Even while defending her I believed I could make it work without losing myself.  I admit it, I was wrong. I stepped willingly into the fire, burned up and have the crinkly skin to prove it. 

Bottom line: Joan of Arc I am not… I’m not like her. I’m not even tied up and forced to continue burning.  So… I’m stepping out while I can still recognize myself.

I have let go.

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