being present

I have been trying to think about what it means to be present. About how one inhabits the present—how one is absorbed by it, how one absorbs it, how one is pressed by it, how one presses onto it, how one navigates it, how one is disoriented by it. I have yet to find the appropriate metaphors—I’m not sure I’d be able to recognize them.

The present cannot be written, for all writing is always in the past tense. An easy lesson. And one that causes despair. This thing slips away. Or turns away. The present turns its face against us.

(Who is this “us”?)
From here, the I wants to hide in the us:we, the we:us, because to be present must be to be in the we:us, the us:we.

There is no crowd to hide behind. The crowd gathers stones. The crowd is indifferent. The crowd kills with indifference.

To be present, to be here, in the midst of this violence. To say nothing. Because the rock-throwing crowd is hungry. And indifferent. And to claim this as a way of being here. Being now.
I gave away the secret—there is no secret.
How does the present become impossible to be in? And what does that mean? What can it mean? The impossibility of being present. Yet to be made present. One wakes up to discover one is present. Even if one cannot be.

“Let me be.”

An impossible demand. And, still, one tries to make it. “Let me be.”

Be what? Be where?
Yet, one’s silence is not absence. It, too, can be presence. A way of registering the weight of the silencing present. Silence has its demands.

This is not what I want to be writing. It is what I can write. The gap between the two might have a name. I have yet to discover it. And, if I did, I am not sure I’d have the courage to use it.

Being present does not mean being now-here, now:here, herenow. It can feel that way. Now(here). A form to say all that cannot be. All that cannot be let to be.

Let me be.
At times, I have mourned that I do not know how to fracture language. I have wanted to write more abrasively, to write words that scratch throats, that make eyes bleed. I don’t know how to. Too many years of learning to let words glide, feeding a lyricism that I wish I could discard. It comes easily now. Too easily.

The present does not lend itself to lyricism. Not even the lyricism that can be mourning.

How does one describe the familiar scabs of yet another depressive episode? The tedium of darkened rooms, unreturned emails, lost appetites, small obsessions, and what one learns to call little victories, reluctantly?
This, I think, is not a way of being “absent” or “detached” or “numb,” as the experts have it. I think the weight of the world is present in depressive episodes. I think one gets caught under the weight and loses the will or the ability to throw it off. And it accumulates. As unwashed clothes. Unwashed bodies. Clotted thoughts. Unspeaking. This is called “unhealth,” because health is predicated on doing, moving on, planning, seeing what matters and what must be discarded for one to live.

What does it mean to stay with? To refuse to move on? Freud called this pathological. I disagree.
The word “weight” takes on significance. The depressive so often feels exhausted. As though Atlas is distributing his weight to those who are psychically available, those recruited against their will. What is it to be psychically available to depression? (Flirting with unhealth. The books say that if untreated, depressive episodes get worse. Flirting with unhealth.)

But. Sociogeny.

What is psychic health to the disposable?

We call it the ability to struggle. The ability to survive. The ability to imagine. The ability to dream. The ability to forget one’s disposability until one is faced with it—inevitably. Inevitably. Inevitably.

Inevitability as a way of being here, being present in this now:here.

Sociogeny weds the social to the psychic. One cannot be psychically well when one is considered disposable. The archive of disposability—expanding, always expanding—impinges on the psychic.

The psychic life of the disposable: now-here, now(here), now:here
this is what I have been trying to write,
not like this,
not here

5 thoughts on “being present

  1. Hey Keguro this is one of my favorite types of personal insights to absorb. It made me remember some of my past dealings with my inner world. Understanding the now is insanely slippery and I really feel that the now is experienced as reactory only. Our actions are calculated from information we process from a past incident, the instantly recent. We are calculating in the now for an action but the input is already the past.
    I have a personal experience while standing around 10 feet under a transformer that blew up. The brightness of the light was so intense it scrambled everything. I never even heard the boom because the light was so intense I couldn’t even hear. I was, however still conscious and floating in a all white void, separated from my brain. And I was indeed floating in thought but I was also confused by my first thought. “where am I?”..then..”What am I?”..then..”What is an I?” I pondered the idea that I didn’t know what I meant and slowly my vision started to return. A squirrel somehow connected the circuit by touching the wrong things. He was in the ditch at me feet smoking.
    I’m not sure what this really means but my take is that we exist outside of our brains. And our emotions while being chemical in nature are the closest thing to what we are in the now. Emotions are reactive, you cannot force many emotions but the few that you can make are from forcing the reaction to the proper stimuli.

  2. I had a response that flew out of my fingers but got lost in the shuffle of lost passwords and things. So I remember three things:
    We/us as stoners and we/us as being stoned. How and when are we and us? How and when are we not?
    That my earliest recollection of a philosophical musing was over a high school assignment in which we were to parse out and make sense of every time Christ said I Am in the gospels. I Am, just I am left time gobsmacked. I expected a noun, an adjective, something to qualify the I but Christ said in that instance I Am and that was it. I’ve thought about that sometimes and last night, after reading this I made the connection with presence: I Am. I recognize that I am here, I exist. I am. Kind of like learning Je Suis en francais and how different that was from I be in english. Perhaps we’re stunted by language but the leap that this essay does for me is a place where We-ness and Us-ness must define an ourness — how do we be? Us stoners? Us stoned? FUck. Now it’s starting to sound like one of those inaccessible poems…

  3. Reblogged this on Back Bent Atlas and commented:
    I couldn’t quite put this into words myself but I am all too frequently haunted by the lacking definition of being present, the one that actually makes sense. This is absolutely brilliant and beyond what I ever concluded in my haywire musings.

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