If I were suddenly forced to come up with the most compelling reasons to write, I would say:

To nurture and strengthen the heart, deepen the dialogue, expand the wisdom and imagination of humans on what it means to be alive and aware now.

Those seem like worthy and compelling reasons right?

But I can’t honestly say they are my only reasons for writing. These are my hopes and intentions for sure, if my work accomplishes anything close to that effect on people, I would be happy with it.

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But we all know lots of people want to improve or fix things, “set a good example”, and “be the light”. Lots of people are also horribly misunderstood, ridiculed, and inadvertently cause great suffering despite (or even because of) their good intentions.

As much as I respect and appreciate people with good intentions, I must admit, I lost the need to change the world.

I lost the need to change the world when I realized how difficult it was (and always is) to change myself, family members, and close friends, let alone acquaintances and strangers.

I lost the urge to lecture others because I experienced (and continually experience) how annoying and how frustrating it is to be lectured, even (and especially) when I agreed with the lecturer!

I lost the compulsion to judge others when I realized how difficult it was (is) to truly know myself, how impossible it often is to control my very own actions and emotions.

And I lost the desire to be the smartest, the best, the most talented, the most accomplished person “in the room” when I realized how terribly unpleasant, unfulfilling, and co-dependent these definitions actually are, above all, how relative they are. I realized how terribly shallow, monocular and isolating such a perspective is. How stupid, boring, less-enlightened and unappealing they needed other people reduced to.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t strive to improve myself or that I don’t want anyone to speak out. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about the world. I care immensely about human rights, the environment and progress. The fact is, I am also aware that problems exist for many reasons, many of them are extremely good reasons. Demonising people, heaping blame on others, dictating any privileged idea of “goodness” or “rightness” does not solve any problems, it may likely deepen them and create even more.

What help is a “good” person who cannot see the good in others? What is the value of a person who values themselves as better than others? What is the use of unsolicited advice from a know-it-all who talks more than listens, projects rather than observes, and wants to “improve” things without a full understanding or compassion for the things to be improved?

Having been cast as the “less enlightened” or “the problem” myself, there is a posture of smug self-righteousness and brash confidence I can never assume. Yet, despite and because of all this, I still feel the need to create, to communicate, to share my experiences with others.

It is a truly astounding time to be a writer right now.

With the ever-growing power and scope of the internet, one cannot share anything with the public these days without inciting both praise and criticism. These feedback loops are not only direct and immediate, they can be numerous, as well as incredibly intense and overwhelming. But most of all, there is also the dead silence of oblivion to contend with, the whimper of lukewarm receptions and abrupt ghostings that often comprise the bulk of the creator-internet relationship. It whispers in tongues to a writer’s every insecurity more than any troll’s brazen comment ever will.

Being a writer now can be immensely lonely. It is a private dance of one in the dark broadcast in bright lights all around the world. It is a masturbation of unoriginal thought. It is an unpaid exercise in futility.

All this. All this is now. It is not a complaint or a nostalgia for “a simpler time”. It is simply a description of the current landscape. It is astounding. It is tragic.

It is worth not only exploring, but cultivating, pitching your tent into and making something resembling a home.

alightcircleabstractseaandstarsmpbaecker

Text and images by M.P. Baecker.

27 thoughts on “Unwriting

  1. In the same vein I’ve stepped back from “deep” subjects in mixed company. I’ve humbly learned that not only can I not change another person’s perspective, or that I too can be wrong, but that the insistence for higher level debate debases some to incorrigible lows. I honestly misunderstood the human capacity for intolerance before the last few years. Shame on me.

    This doesn’t mean that I will write less (or unwrite) or that I won’t speak my piece. What I haven’t the stomach (or time) for is the countering of ignoble thoughts. I have no time whatsoever for trolls.

    Another beautiful marriage of images and words, my friend. I have missed your wisdom!

    Liked by 1 person

    • How I’ve missed you Tom!😔 It’s sooooo great to have you back!

      I love what you wrote, “the insistence for higher level debate debases some to incorrigible lows”, so beautiful! You and I share very similar experiences!

      I really hope what I’ve written here doesn’t come across as trying to silence or repress people (if it does, then I’ve failed), especially the thoughtful and caring people who sorely need a push forward to amplify their voices and to be put in positions of power. (And if there’s anyone who can truly improve things, you’d be one of my picks!)

      My problem is that blinding focus on being “special” or a “genius”. If the work of well-admired authors only manages to make people more exclusive, snobby, elitist and monocular, then they too have failed in their art. We focus too much on the greatness of a privileged few at the cost of not seeing/cultivating the greatness in each and all of us.

      Another example: As you know, I wrote several essays on my experiences with racism and xenophobia, I recently found out one of my followers who had read all of these essays is actually a huge Twitter troll. He sends homophobic and islamophobic tweets constantly (and still does). When I found out about this, I was so devastated, I lost my motivation to write. Somehow, I naively hoped I could convince him to stop and I worried he was actually using the knowledge I was freely giving him to strengthen his stance. You see my predicament? To mentally manage this, I feel I must divorce myself from the outcome. I will still speak on all the subjects I care about, I will still speak my truth, but I can’t make people see what they are not willing to see.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly the conclusion I’ve come to. The truth, and compassion, I will always seek, but I cannot let the outcome of my quest, or the reactions to it, sway me in the least. Mankind will be better in the long run for the quest, of this I am sure. Some will be left behind because their ignorance is not simply a lack of education or understanding but a PASSION of theirs. They will ever look backwards to a simpler (in their eyes; the true word there is “worse”) time.

        MP, folks like us, we are the future of humanity. I mean that humbly. I will never be remembered for great things (and who wants that, anyway? Most of the greats didn’t …) but folks like me, like us, will be by far the norm in a better time to come. There will always be trolls, but their numbers, and their power, are diminishing. We do not need to defeat them, we just have to continue to shine the light. The light will defeat them in time.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your deposition on ‘unwriting’ is a psychedelic outburst. It is certainly an unwinding of wound up emotions for long, at times a writhing to express the unexpressable, utter the unsayable, and unsay the noise drowning your spirit in an interminable nada. There are many quotes on writing I love, but I especially love this one by Hemingway:

    For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What an incredibly beautiful comment! I feel that you really “hit the nail” on this one! That’s definitely how I felt writing this, my brain felt this “writhing” for sure! (I had written and trashed 4 versions before this one!) This attempt at expressing the inexpressible, especially between two contradictory points/dualities is the major theme of all my work! If there is a main artery to it, this would be it! (I plan to excavate that a bit more in the next essay) I am particularly obsessed with contradictions, not just expressing them but mapping them and cultivating the bridges and grey areas in-between. A particular problem I have is many people tend to demarcate dualities as “good” (desired) or “bad” (to be avoided), but for the most part, I do not. To me it’s like a play of dark and light, in order for a picture to appear you need both. I am glad you saw that.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It takes a tremendous amount of self awareness to do what you did here. You recognized that for you to shine ( even if for only yourself) you need to control or fix what you can first.
    Additionally, you recognize that there is a good chance that your writing may be misunderstood or not read at all.
    Hostile environment or not, your voice matters so keep doing what you’re doing

    Liked by 3 people

  4. As always a great read.

    On topic: I think one reason for “lecturing” about “making the world better” is that one sometimes feels the excited desire to spread the most recent “truth” one has just discovered for oneself. So it’s not just communicating because one (pragmatically) needs others to share one’s view to really make a difference, but just emotional self-expression. If a “truth” is felt very strongly, one thinks that others HAVE to know about it and then one starts to try to lecture / influence / convert / seek affirmation / …

    I feel that problem myself sometimes. But maybe it’s really better sometimes to shut up, esp. if there are others who may have more important things to say. Is my own part really that important that others have to read it? Or should I be quiet? But if I keep quiet, maybe I hide from my potential responsibility to speak up?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you (as always) for your great comment! You bring up some excellent points. I was really worried that people would take this essay to mean that I want people to listen/observe a lot more and speak a lot less. But my main problem is the often damaging stereotype of the “genius” egotistical author and the group-think dynamic where people “follow” some sort of enlightened guru or leader and reduce their own ability to think for themselves. I think critical thought and a certain amount of skepticism is healthy. Honestly, whether you should listen more and speak less or the other way around, it’s all up to you, you know yourself best, as well each situation. No self-proclaimed author, such as myself 😄, can make other people see/understand something that they don’t already possess themselves.

      I find everything in this digital realm, as well as art and writing itself to be extremely valuable, but ultimately all of this is second-hand information, pre-processed, most of it cut up into easily digestible bits– a poor substitute to real experience, though certainly a good way to enhance it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • 😄I couldn’t agree with you more! I was a little bit worried that blogging/writing friends might feel attacked, but I am very much describing myself! I try to credit other thinkers to the extent that I know “but one does not know what one does not know“ (Socratic paradox), well it’s safe to assume “all this has happened before and it will happen again” (J.M. Barre).

      Liked by 1 person

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