For me the idea of real human connections is terrifying. In my fantasy life and behavior, I try to live as if in a castle tower high above an island where I am totally safe. The main feature of this isolation is my denial of attachment and the need for other people. Of course, living that way brings on another terror—the terror of not being humanly connected. If my tendency to defend myself by isolating were to be fully realized, I would not be connected enough to maintain a healthy sense of self.
I am perched somewhat precariously on a high tower. It is my refuge, my retreat. From my height I inhale the chilled but bracing air that surrounds me. From my bird’s eye view above the city, I observe the hubbub below, which enlivens my day. My tower provides sanctuary and protection. I have removed myself from ordinary life. It is a precious and solitary moment. I am by myself and beside myself in my exhilaration. I stand like a puppeteer above his puppets, and in my imagination I manipulate the people I see below me, like a puppet master who animates the passive instruments under his control. I stand alone and disturb the people below me, or so I fancy.
Words, words, words . . . on some days, I have the gift . . . I can make love out of words as a potter makes cups out of clay, love that overthrows empires, love that binds two hearts together come hellfire and brimstone . . . I can cause a riot in a nunnery — a disturbance not to be dismissed . . . but on other days . . . I feel that I have lost my gift. It’s as if my quill had broken. As if the organ of the imagination has dried up. As if the proud tower of my narrative talents has collapsed. Nothing comes. And my spirits suffer.
I live to observe and to express. My capacity for vigilant scrutiny and my talent for words, for felicitous locution, enlarge my inner repository of sensual experience and permit me to make that repository accessible to my audience.
Whether my published communications unite me with others or disturb the equilibrium of their world, my own inner states are transformed thereby.
Today I am in a reflective mood. I’ve been thinking about desolation and transformation. I have been thinking about my current condition: my lone battle with the people, the critics, in my environment and beyond. I think about my loneliness, which rises to the level of despair at times, but, fortunately does not defeat me. I revel in my lonely struggle. I revel in my ability to disturb my immediate environment and the world beyond my imagination. I view my isolation and my defiance as virtues, the tests and marks of a higher morality. My emotional inertness pains me, but my capacity to endure my suffering and my ability to transform my distress by means of expression, by means of words, emboldens my spirit.
Something in my past must have disposed me to suffering, but at the same time prepared me to endure that very torment.