Emanations VII

And why shouldn’t he be naked, as he scuttles around my kitchen like a rat? I’d probably do the same in his situation. Harry’s lost his cloak, see. His cloak of mirrors, made from fragments of every surface, sound, scent or taste in which he’s found a piece of his soul reflected back at him. Fairground mirrors are ten a penny; true mirrors are a treasure to find. So when he comes across one, he cuts it out, stitches it to the others. Trouble is, mirrors change just as we all do. Sometimes they become foggy or scratched, or show versions of us we’ve long since surpassed. Sometimes they show us the future, and we don’t recognise those at all. Cloaks become lost.

So now, in my kitchen, he lifts up linoleum squares to caress the concrete beneath. He sniffs around the waste bin. Then he cries until I put his favourite drone track through my loudest speakers so that he might hear it in this new context.
“If I can find the mirror of the moment, I will know who I am,” he says. I nod. I know. “Perhaps we should move the sofa?”

But Harry’s looked behind the sofa before. He’s spent time buried in a pile of rocks, he’s watched television static for 24 hours straight, he’s rolled sewing needles between his forefinger and thumb at the top of a mountain. He’s set an alarm for 3.44 in the morning to take the hottest shower possible. Always looking for the Harryness in things. He’s used every part of his body to make paintings, sometimes on drugs so he can paint with their melting counterparts. You’ve got to wade through some mud before you find the truffles.

“Ssshhh,” Harry says, raising a finger to my face. He cocks his head to align with the worktop; has his metaphysical scissors at the ready. He’ll only take a sample: a swatch big enough to start a new cloak. That way, I’ll never lose myself. It won’t harm the mirror, of course, because they grow back to fill the space they’re afforded.

I used to think, when he collected enough mirrors, there’d be a gateway. A way out of this labyrinth. We’re going to see the goblin king! Perhaps he’ll take our souls! But now I know the whole thing is only a matter of preserving sanity. No matter the meaning we choose, so long as we do choose, right?

Harry has a gift for finding the glimmers among unexpected and discarded mental combinations, but today is not meant to be. There’s nothing there for him.
“How will you be soothed, Harry?” I say. “Shall I take you to the sea?” They say there’ll be a storm tonight. Harry likes storms. But his wrinkled flesh has already begun to shudder.
“The mirrors just don’t have the timeless quality we’d like, Stephanie. They show us only how our souls are trapped in time. Trapped in time!”
Trapped in time. I stroke his grey hair, and he sucks his thumb. We’ll probably stay this way until morning.

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Emanations is an experiment in automatic fiction writing. These surreal fragments come from states of meditation, excitation, or indifferent vacuity, and are subject only to the lightest touch of editing. I consider them to be little windows into the back rooms of the mind.

Identity and Social Media: A Psychological Perspective

I left Facebook for a month and the world didn’t end. I had become frustrated by my own compulsion to connect electronically, and was convinced it was getting in the way of my productivity and personal goals. Being an introverted personality, I didn’t think I would miss the interaction so much and hoped I would become more focused and more emotionally available to experience the ‘real’ world, the here and the now. What actually happened surprised me. First of all very few people even noticed my absence, apart from Facebook itself which sent me 11 notifications in the first week prompting me to reconnect, which led me to question the authenticity of my friendships and of my contribution to the social group. Secondly, although I had more occasions on which I was available to write or paint instead of procrastinating and scrolling my newsfeed, a big source of inspiration was cut off. Convinced I was just adjusting, and unwilling to accept that social media was more important to me than I realised, I quickly became quite depressed.

Why this should be the case, from a psychological perspective, interested me greatly. Then when I logged back in, one of the first things I noticed was a quote from an unknown source:

If you want to know what someone fears losing, watch what they photograph

Given that much of my newsfeed was filled with selfies, it prompted me to think: do people in the technological age fear losing themselves? And my enquiry naturally progressed to: How does social media contribute to our mental health and sense of identity? Continue reading “Identity and Social Media: A Psychological Perspective”

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