Wednesday, March 20, 2013

That Malicious Inner Voice

I have the kind of personality that is very skilled at sabotaging me. And “me” gets very annoyed sometimes. There are few things that I do well (see! there it is!), but even those things that it might just be possible to say, when measured by some external, objective standard, that I do, in fact do well, are quickly reduced to rubble by this sadistic personality. I do not know where this homicidal (or suicidal) internal voice originated, but I know that I have never been able to silence it for long. Perhaps it has something to do with the Anglo-Saxon environment in which I was raised, and which has little tolerance for boasting. There were always plenty of external voices to put me firmly back in place (somewhere in that ineradicable class system); these external voices easily become internalised, which I suspect is the plan. I think this has something to do with becoming “socialised". Alternatively, perhaps it has something to do with my own specific upbringing, which probably sneaks into my fictional writing here and there. Wherever this malicious voice comes from, it is never far behind any apparent success I have.

If I had painted the Mona Lisa, this inner voice would be telling me, “It’s a bit small, don’t you think?” And when millions upon millions of people continue to flock to see it, this voice would be telling me, “They can’t see how you failed to capture the light the way you wanted it in the top left corner. What would they know?” If I were Michelangelo, just having finished the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? “You missed a spot there.” And the David? “The head’s a bit big, don’t you think?” No matter how much other people might praise my success (oh, and this voice just wants to make it absolutely clear the I did not paint the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel, nor did I sculpt David), this inner voice always knows better. It knows that what I have done isn’t up to scratch; and never can be.

Of course, the annoying thing is that the damn voice is correct! No matter what I do, it could always have been done better. There are always a few small cracks into which the roots of this voice (ok, a messily mixed metaphor, I know) can creep and, ultimately, tear the edifice down.

And then there are Persian carpets. It is said that a fine Persian rug will almost always contain intentional imperfections, because only God can be considered perfect. This represents, of course, the most appalling arrogance: the assumption that something a human being makes will only be imperfect if the imperfections are intentional. I will not use this argument to defend against the flaws in my achievements (my inner voice would not let me). Anyway, voice, I am not out to achieve perfection. Perhaps, though, you could let me enjoy, just for a few moments, the sense that I have actually achieved something worth achieving, before jumping in with a catalogue of its flaws.

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