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ways of thinking about people
Garden with Melitaea, 1955, Jean Dubuffet
Are you pre-fall or post-fall? (stolen from J).
What’s the order in which you would rank money, power, and beauty? (stolen from M).
Myers-Briggs? Enneagram? Big Five?
Sun, moon, rising?
Last person you were devastatingly in love with.
Are you centered or centre-less? (Do you have a core to you?)
Are you securely or insecurely attached?
Which of these three are you obsessed with: technology, people, money? (You can only pick one).
Obviously I am more interested in people than anything else. More interested in emotional arbitrage than financial arbitrage, more interested in the beauty of language than in its ability to taxonomize. This weekend at J’s house we were talking about how we are mostly only incentivized to improve what we’re really bad at or really good at. If you’re a B+ at something, you tend to let it slide. And I said I became obsessed with people because I was so bad at them. Zero intuition. The only way I could figure out how to interact with anyone was through reading. Which means that even as an adult I’m stuck thinking of things through a novelistic lens: I was always trying to acquire a sentimental education.
I think people generally fail to understand this at the right level of abstraction. If you tell a guy I do things so I can write about them, he’ll say: does that mean you’ll write about me? That’s not the right frame. The right frame is: what do you think the moral of the story is going to be? The right frame is: why do you exhaustively document things when you never show anyone? I don’t write about things to exploit them or even to share them, I write things down so I don’t go insane. A weak effort to counteract the lightness of being alive on this earth.
Do you think optionality is emptiness?
Do you think emptiness feels more like transcendence or despair?
I tethered myself to you because you felt solid. From Written in the Body, our narrator asking Louise about her husband:
‘And what about him, what did he think?’
‘He knew I was beautiful, that I was a prize. He wanted something showy but not vulgar. He wanted to go up to the world and say, “Look what I’ve got.”
I like people who double as good commodities. What I appreciated about you is that you demonstrate both my appetite and my restraint. That you don’t crack under pressure. That you make me legible, that you make me feel safe to others, that you never protest when I reach for you.
And why did you like me? Melissa Broder: Anyone who can meet my love of intensity can’t be totally normal. Two days ago I met a plastic surgeon who wanted to write fiction. He recommended me a book called Psychocybernetics. He has an undergrad degree in philosophy from a college that claims to value the life of the mind. I was charmed by his relationship with risk, as you were charmed by mine. There’s something compelling about people who operate right at the edge.
I told M that the pragmatist in me needs someone who can perform—that all my idealism goes into my writing. These days I think it’s too expensive to die for love but there’s still nothing else I’d rather die for. That’s kind of person I am. I still value irrational things for emotional reasons. I still like asking the same question over and over to the void. I still believe writing is a protest against nihilism. Line by line I’m trying to make you feel like you know me.
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