18 March 2013

confessions of the duckling.

The worst thing of all to be is ugly, I think. That's obviously an overstatement—it's surely worse to be crippled or dead, for example—but my irrational mind has never quite been convinced that there's a worse fate (in this strange world we inhabit) than to be cursed with that unfortunate permutation of physical features generally categorized by prevailing social standards as Unattractive. 

Once, I described a fantasy I had to an unsuspecting listener. I said that I dreamed of being able to cut my 'inner self' (spirit, soul, personality—whatever you want to call it) out of my body. Maybe it's something only like peeling an orange or cracking an egg, but my mind, as you know, tends to fixate on the grotesque—so I imagine myself cutting through my own skin with a small knife—a paring knife perhaps—and setting whatever there is inside me free. Of course, there's lots of blood and viscera, and when the skin's finally picked and peeled away there's a beautiful, unblemished emptiness there. A bubble of absence that only looks like an absence—because I'm really there, but I don't look like anything at all. There's a space left behind where I was (that cannot be filled), but that space is me, including everything it means to be me, except my appearance. 

There's nothing on earth I hate more than being ugly—because I'm a vain man—a man who wishes to be desired, universally, without bothering to return that desire in kind. But as it stands, I don't desire anymore. I have chosen not to desire—and in not desiring to spare myself the indignity of being ugly with or around someone else. If I have to be—and I apparently do—then I'll be ugly all by myself, and I won't accept the charity of physical affection. I won't be an object that's seen and judged and held up for contrast against the shape of real beauty. That's what we are—we're programmed to crave it. It being beauty, which I never had but wanted more than anything. I'm ashamed to admit it—because I know what kind of fool it makes me—but I'd give up any part of myself just to be something that's wanted—but not wanted in the intellectual sense, when one thinks to oneself, 'All things considered, this is good enough for me, so I'll decide to want it.'

No, when I say 'wanting' I mean that yearning that happens before thought even enters the scene. There's no mediation from conscience. We desire what we desire before we can be persuaded for or against it. I'm tempted to say it's primal, if that word didn't have all sorts of connotations I'm not interested in invoking here. 

I've been wanting to write this blog entry for months now, but I never had the courage until now. Yes, 'courage' is the right word for what I needed—courage to be ashamed of my vanity and to draw attention to that which I'm always trying to hide: my ugliness. I don't try to hide my ugliness from you (because, in the end, I can't); I try to hide it from myself, which is why I don't look at photographs of myself or in mirrors except when I'm getting ready in the morning—and even then, I squint at the mirror to try to see as little of myself as I can. 

I try not to see myself so that I can forget what I look like. And it works. Gradually the image of myself is replaced by an expressionistic image of what I think my personality looks like. There's some correspondence between the real self and the imagined self, but only one of distant relations. 

But then it's like a punch in the gut when I have to see myself again—by force or by accident—and to remember this Ugly Man costume I have wear around the world. 

And I can never take it off till I die. 

Which kinda sucks.