To an LJ friend:
Reading your last few LiveJournal entries this morning I didn’t expect to fall into what may be the most meticulous accounts of hypochondria and suicide I’ve read in a LONG time, but there I was, up to my nose in it, and I felt a flash of recognition, like suddenly seeing a friend or brother among the faces on one of the crowded streets of New York. I was seriously suicidal only once in my life decades ago, but these days I regularly, furiously pump up the natural aches and pains of advancing age into fatal illnesses. Yes, I’m fucking dying and it’s a pity she doesn’t care! Nobody cares! Poor me!
After thinking about it for a while, my writing about ancient history is colored by two traits--cheerful childhood optimism in the face of severe abuse, and a bent for melodrama. “Johnny, you dramatize things too much,” my mother once told me.
For me writing is bearing witness—a wholly conscious process, a matter of carefully recording what I did and said, and what THEY did and said, exactly, no more and no less. Being a witness rather than a participant is, of course, a durable, reliable psychological defense. It works perfectly because it’s just a form of dissociation, or separating, or the state of being separated from pain, abuse, loss.
Writing then is mostly an intellectual exercise, whereas photography is automatic and entirely more connected to my subconscious. I believe that creating images is like having dreams. They contain messages from the depths (Suspiria De Profundis!), but they’re written in a complex code, and there’s nothing coincidental about them. There’s always a reason I pressed the shutter button in a particular situation, or in a number of others, and there are no accidents. All images have meaning, and the meaning becomes apparent, but only when I take the time to decode the messages.