Friday, August 5, 2011

Masked and Anonymous

The apparent dilemma rests upon a false impression about the nature of nothingness as a state of mind. The ability to accept ourselves as nothing is not easily developed. It runs counter to all our desires for identity, for an apparently meaningful existence, one filled with hope and promise. To be nothing seems a form of psychological suicide. We cling to our somethingness with all the strength at our command. The thought of being a nothing is simply not acceptable. But the fact is that the person who does not learn to be as nothing cannot feel that he is but a plain, ordinary, everyday kind of person, who merges with the human race — and as such is humble, lost in the crowd, and essentially anonymous. When that can happen, the person has a lot going for him.
(Harry M. Tiebout, MD)

"I'm ready for to fade / into my own parade." (Bob Dylan, lyrics from "Mr. Tambourine Man")

"Mona Lisa and the Clown and the Cool Rain of the Law"
(watercolor, gouache and chalk pastel on paper, by Amanda Wald Rachie, from the early 1980s)


The Solitary Walker said...

I remember this picture, am.

I think it's of great spiritual benefit to realise we start as 'nothing' and end up as 'nothing' and build from there. Then, when we descend into 'nothingness' during certain periods of our lives, we'll at least recognise the place, and have some familiar guide posts and markers. To fall into 'nothing' from overweaning pride, after delusions about the apparent protection of iron-shelled identity, can be catastrophic. Unless we have some humble understanding of this existential state. And 'nothing' is always 'something', after all.

Taradharma said...

Excellent quote. Though not quite the same as 'nothingness,' my first experience of true personal insignificance occurred on my first trip to NYC at 21. It was the world in microcosm, and I was but a speck. It was liberating, actually, as the quote alludes to. To know that my importance was - nothing - awakened me.

Really appreciate Solitary Walker's comments as well.

NokoRose said...

I saw your recent comment over on mole and thought we might have a fair amount in common. All my efforts seem to go towards the fade and yet I long to be recognized as special and live in the contradiction every darn day. Of course the mix changes. The power of nothingness is like a force of nature that blows the contradiction to smithereens.

Anonymous said...

the title "masked and anonymous" is terrific, for me it's the humor, the wink and nod that goes with the title and the art. kjm

am said...

Solitary Walker -- Yes. "And 'nothing' is always 'something', after all." As always, thanks for your comment.

Taradharma -- A trip to NYC at age 21. What a gift that was. Liberating. I was 32 the only time I was in New York City and had a similar experience and had not thought of it in those terms until just now reading your words.

Meander Knot Press -- I appreciate what you wrote about the power of nothingness being like a force of nature. Looking back through your blog, I see that we certainly do have some experiences in common. Thanks for stopping by.

kjm -- Bob Dylan is a great source for titles. He got that one from Julio Cortazar (spelling?)