Me But Not Me
What made you take a peek into this post?
Was it the title – Me But Not Me…
If it was the title, why did it appeal to you enough to make you click to read more?
Was it perhaps because you related to what it expressed…
what does it express for you?
For me this simple concept has expressed so many different things over the years since it first introduced itself to me…
when did it do that?
When did – Me but not me – become a thing for me?
Is it a thing… in some ways it is, but in others it is not, it’s a motto, a thought, a reminder, a philosophy of the non-philosopher sort, a … it is almost a living and breathing friend for me, a person who was there to guide me when I was confused… mostly about who I was, about my identity, my self…
especially during those times when who I thought I was conflicted with who others told me that I was or told others that I was when they were using me to define to others who they were… and doing it when I was around but it felt as though I wasn’t actually there because I was being spoken about in such a manner that it made me wonder if I was actually there.
I was there but not there.
Being there but not there is a common experience when you’re the only child floating in a sea of adults, which I often was…
they’re not really sure why you’re there, neither are you, and they’re not certain if they like your intrusion because it… it’s awkward, you’re an awkward presence.
Like a drop of oil in a glass of water.
When your presence makes others feel awkward, you end up feeling as though you are awkward. That is you. Awkward. Even though you may not experience yourself that way, you come to view yourself that way and eventually you too experience yourself that way.
What started out somewhere else becomes a part of you within yourself.
The above picture is one I took of myself, therefore it is me…
but it’s not really me…
in a variety of ways.
And yet it is always me no matter what.
It’s a case of – Me but not me.
While taking that photo I was both photographer and subject – this dynamic places you both inside and outside of yourself, it puts you in the pose of being photographed and photographing so your conscious awareness of yourself comes from more than one angle of perspective.
Of course I wasn’t actually in two places at once, I don’t have the ability to literally split myself into two people who are doing different things…
no matter how it sometimes feels that way,
or how useful that would be in certain circumstances… like in this one where I would have prefered to be able to see what sort of picture I was taking and be able to tell the ‘model’ what to do to achieve the shot I was aiming for.
When I use myself as a ‘model’ I’m usually trying to capture an idea rather than a person, to express a thought, and I often don’t relate to myself as a person during that time.
I’m an abstract concept trying to make itself a little less abstract.
In this case I wasn’t really aiming for anything other than a bit of fun, dressing up, seeing what emerged… perhaps catching a glimpse of myself in a way that I hadn’t viewed myself before. Hopefully grasping a subtlety that likes to remain elusive.
A bit like when you’re taken out of your comfort zone and discover that another zone which you were certain was not right for you, which felt totally uncomfortable, turns out to be a natural environment… why didn’t you know this before!?!
Because you’d never been there, done that, tried swimming in it… but why!?!
Perhaps someone else told you not to go swimming in those waters because they were dangerous, you’d die, be torn limb from limb… they were afraid and so they made you afraid of the fear they felt, and you became afraid too.
Part of where – Me but not me – came from was due to growing up the child of an artist
(that should read as ‘artist’ and not ‘narcissist’
for this post anyway…
but… with my dyslexia I’m never sure what I’m reading and writing or hearing and sighting).
My father was a painter of canvas walls.
Upon those walls he created scenes which allowed those who viewed them to cross a threshold into a dream, a fantasy, and sometimes a memory.
One of his collectors said that the pieces which he bought and hung in his house enabled him to commune with a dearly departed whose life had been cut short too soon. He had not been prepared for the parting, had never said goodbye… wouldn’t have wanted to say it even if he knew it was coming. He would sit and stare at the wall, at the colourful wall upon a wall, and a door would open into a world where this loved one still lived and they could spend time together, suspended…
I’ll never forget that conversation as it opened up a window for me into another way of looking at something I had always looked at from my own angle which was often coloured by knowing things which others did not know.
By seeing the colours which weren’t on the canvas, I didn’t always see the ones which were on the canvas.
A regular theme of my life has been trying to cross the bridge between how others viewed my father’s work and how I viewed it.
How others viewed my father and how I viewed him.
Perception… has been a muse that has amused, bemused and caused many a wandering in the world of musings…
(how I view this and how you view it may be altered by what we are focusing upon and perceiving through our focus. Form which angle are you perceiving it?)
I’ve seen him create his creations from long before paint actually touched canvas…
I’ve been a part of that before…
a part of his creations, and a creation of his (both figuratively and literally).
My father’s pieces often started from an idea which guided his camera lens…
his paintings were at times collages of images he’d captured while roaming around with a camera.
He could have used a sketchbook, but sketching didn’t capture fleeting moments the way his camera could, the way his eye did. His camera was his eye on the world sometimes… and his pictures helped his eye recall what it had seen, and what he had seen became the inspiration for what he painted.
I was sometimes a subject for his eye…
and his camera
and his paintings…
it could be a very critical eye.
He had a habit of spotting things about you
and then pointing them out…
colouring you with his particular palette.
It could be you but it could also not be you.
His paintings reflected that…
I was once a boy on a bicycle.
That boy went from painting to print and many people bought him because he either reminded them of their youth or of a child they loved who had grown and yet had not grown…
that wasn’t the only time I was mistaken for a boy,
it was another theme in my life which I grew to rather enjoy after trying to fight it… we sometimes end up loving those with whom we fight more than those we immediately like.
I sometimes see myself through that kaleidoscopic lens which my father shared with me…
This version of the photograph is a homage to my father’s style of painting.
I’ve actually used one of his paintings as an overlay.
He loved painting in abstract,
perhaps that’s how he saw the world, slashes and splashes of colour, bleeding into each other, defined yet not defined…
he also indulged in impressionism,
he could paint faces precisely,
something for which he sometimes got criticised by the critical eye of others
(apparently if you paint too realistically, you’re not a good painter… not sure how that criticism was figured out by those criticising, maybe they found painting faces too easy, therefore anyone who could do it… nope, still can’t figure this one out).
He refused to paint portraits,
no matter how much people sometimes longed for and begged him to paint their portrait he would not do it… for you,
you would only end up either hating your painted face or hating your actual face because of it,
we rarely see ourselves as others see us and they rarely see us as we see ourselves.
This causes problems,
and sometimes for all.
(if you find yourself being the muse of an artist, remember that the artist is their own muse, and sometimes they are their own muse through you)
He often obscured faces,
because the face of the subject wasn’t the subject,
something for which he sometimes got criticised by the critical eye of others
(apparently not painting a face precisely where someone expects a precise face to be is cause for critical concern about the talent and ability of an artist… wonder what Picasso would have said about this).
If you’re an artist,
(which you are even when you aren’t)
you need to grow a very thick skin
as what you create will inspire others to share with you what your creation has evoked for them…
and it isn’t always pretty or complimentary because when you stir people,
which you do just by being,
and expressing that being,
even by trying to be nothing,
you can’t always control what gets stirred…
but growing a thick skin can alter the sensitivity of your artistic sensibility.
By the time I knew my father he had so many scars,
which had been repeatedly broken open and healed, and broken and… some of them were the skin of a crocodile which cried without crying,
bled without bleeding,
painted without painting.
People can sometimes be very pretentious when it comes to the subject of art,
in whatever form it takes,
they feel the need to put on airs…
and breathe as though oxygen is scarce, and only for the elitist…
artists are sometimes the most pretentious of them all…
but what is pretension?
Is perhaps a wall upon which a picture is being painted for the viewing of the viewer,
or at least what the creator of the view would like the viewer to see,
but they can’t always direct your eyes to what they want you to see…
it is a me but not me.