Express Yourself

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In Paul Auster’s novel, The Book of Illusions, a filmmaker, Hector Mann, makes films that he doesn’t want the world to see. The instructions in his will are clear, every remaining copy of all the films he has ever made need to be burnt within twenty-four hours of his death. He has made these movies for himself, simply for the sake of making them, for the pleasure he felt from making them.

But he falters in his resolve. He invites a writer, David Zimmer, to his ranch. He wants him to view the movies. David Zimmer knows that the Hector Mann is drawing his last few breaths and that he doesn’t have enough time to view each masterpiece in the vault. He panics at the thought of the world missing out on these works of genius.

And so it is with any form of expression. Is there such a thing as writing for oneself, painting for oneself, making films for our own viewing pleasure, blogging for catharsis alone, expressing oneself eloquently just for the pleasure of expressing oneself? I think such a thing would be about as satisfying as muttering or yelling to oneself within the confines of ones room or padded cell as the case may be. I believe we need an audience, an appreciative or, at the very least, a sympathetic one, at that. Even if we have little to say that may interest the world, even if we have nothing new to add to the collective evolution of thoughts and feelings, our perspective, we feel, is unique and we want to share it. It buys us an iota of minor immortality, a sense that we’ll be leaving a part of ourselves behind. Even if the value of this left behind part may be questionable to future generations; what our future generations will question or accept, after all, isn’t really our concern.

Some insist they write for themselves and are not interested in what others have to say about their work. That may be true but don’t they still want people reading what they have to say? They may not care about what others have to say about their work, but I am certain they want to be read.

And we don’t really have to worry on that front either because no matter what we want to say, there is an audience out there. People want to be unique but even as they try to distinguish themselves and stand apart, they still seek resonance in other thoughts, other actions. Why else would I have scoured about fifty blogs today, reading the latest posts, searching for kindred spirits? The search wasn’t entirely satisfactory today but the pleasures of going to the “next blog” are immense, if only to see what others are talking about, what they felt the need to immortalize in cyberspace this 14th day of September.

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