Confession, I used to hate those types of questions in the English Lit classroom. ‘Discuss’ suggests that in the first place the lecturer was on the hop following a ‘Guardian spouting’ Merlot slurping evening before with a group of friends so afraid of having opinions of their own they become empty abandoned billboards in a derelict town. A vehicle for another wo/man’s opinions to be projected upon. Anyway…’Discuss’ always feels as if one is doing the legwork for another article, a more critical one, that our work will just act as a series of gobbets.
I’m reminded of the Jim Kirkwood work: ‘There must be a pony!” where two sons are tested by their Father about their differing reactions; one an optimist and the other the aforementioned pessimist. I think its experience that dictates our life rhetoric and in what camp we fall. There are those confused souls who believe that they are one only to be, in actual fact, another. The closet optimist is a very dangerous specimen. All Jack Dee in the day only to delight in wild and obscure collections behind closed doors at night. I’m the reverse.
My public propaganda is ‘little miss sunshine’ whereas my head is your archetypal tragedian, some things just seem too good to be true and I ruin it by worrying things will change. My optimism is for others, I can get extremely excited for another’s goal/quest and even my own but this is undone when the doubt creeps in. How easy would it be to undo this self-conditioning? Is it possible, in the first instance? People do change, they have that potential, I truly believe that- I wouldn’t be able to do the job I do if I didn’t think people could but it’s a lot more difficult for self-change isn’t it?
I worked in a busy public Library for a number of years, a job I really enjoyed for three main elements: variety, books and pace. Quite often members of the public would come in with a referral from the Doctor’s surgery for a ‘self-help’ book. These enquiries were treated with the strictest privacy. This medicating through literature is key; a pile of books cures feelings of cynicism more than the weightiest of drugs, well for me it does. There is hope between those pages. There is hope in a ‘crafting project’ those moments when you get an idea or are inspired by another’s work gives more of a lift than any sip of champagne or quick fix. I think the key is this act has the potential to exist longer than us, this act of legacy is simple and yet dynamic. The creative gene, if possessed and more to the point, flexed is capable of allowing us to free our heads of pessimism. One step after another result in something more than we’d expect ourselves to achieve; therein obliterating the pessimistic self….momentarily at least.