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Autonomy

December 9th, 2008

I started thinking about autonomy, first for personal reasons I won’t get into, but then as a concept in general.  I used to think of myself as autonomous.  I used to feel like the more time I spent by myself, working on myself, the better.  I felt really good about it for a few years.

The problem was that autonomy is a myth.  In my time of autonomy, I was connected to people and things that kept me going.  Without the friends I had at the time, who were interested in the kinds of things I was doing, not to mention the no-pressure job and college life, none of it would have worked.  I found that out eventually, as I looked around and all of a sudden felt like no one cared.  All those things were gone, and it was just me.

Jackson Pollock, the quintessential autonomous artist, was actually surprisingly connected, not to people, but to nature.  The problem was he didn’t know what he was doing, and since art was still thought to be an expression of the ego, his ego consumed him.

I guess I’m writing about alienation.  It’s the unfortunate byproduct created by the myth of autonomy.  When you think you’re separate from the things supporting you, then there’s nothing to keep those things from falling away.  I feel like that happened to me when I was 26.   It took a while for me to figure it out.  And now I know I don’t want to be separated from stuff.  I need a certain amount of myself projected outward.  I need other people to challenge me.  I need things I’m not used to.

I know I have a depression problem, and I try to manage it.  I think about the way I feel right now, and in a way it’s OK because I know it’s temporary.  But there are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with your emotions.  I tend to deal with negative emotions in an unhealthy way because it makes me feel connected to things.  I spiral down into myself.  If I’m connected to things, then it’s easier to avoid that.

It’s winter.  I really want to try not to get too sucked into my own head like I usually do this time of year.  I want to keep going out and seeing people and having a public life.  I’ve been doing much better at music now that I’m not trying so hard.  At least I feel like I am, and I’m enjoying it more.  I guess it could go either way.