This was written and performed at the March 2017 edition of ‘Write Club.’
The prompt was ‘Mind vs. Matter.’
Ya’ll know solipsism? I’ve always been a fan. First, it’s fun to say (you’re doing it now. Dont lie.) It’s even more fun to harass your underpaid professors with. “But how can we prove anything maaaan. For all we know I could be a brain in jar hooked up to electrodes and you could just be a computer simulation. So who can say if i ‘did’ or ‘did not’ complete the assignment. Change my grade”
Every semester philosophy classes debate the “brain in a jar” puzzle. Quick version: what if you’re in the matrix (but there’s no karate or keanu) how can you prove anything besides yourself is real. It’s a total mind fuck. But also, I think the mind in question kinda gets fucked over. What does she do when she isn’t proving or disproving reality? Sit on a shelf somewhere, in the room we stick all our idle hypotheticals in? Hang out with Schrodinger’s cat and the knight and the knave, the unstoppable cannon ball and the immovable post?
“Did you know they put poison in that box” Schrodinger’s cat furiously hisses.“Who the fuck does that to a kitty!”
“People are nutso” says the brain. Lets call her Brianne because c’mon.
“Apparently” says the cat, extending a leg to clean its hypothetical asshole. “You see that article about MRAs and the alt right opening a pizzagate themed restaurant?”
“You know that i haven’t. Also whats an ‘MRA’?”
“What have you been living under a rock?”
Brianne would have rolled her eyes if they still had lids.
At that moment, the Devil’s Advocate runs up panting “Now hold on! First of all, according to discovery, MRAs, men’s rights activists. And we should hear them out! As stated in this affidavit, a member who identifies by the reddit username ‘DaBallz’ says ‘They’re fighting for… uh.. Um.. fuckin, uh.. … so.. ladies.. Uh.. fuckin… pussy is on a pedestal! Which is… It shoudn’t be up there, it’s TOO high. It should be on MY dick. Which is NOT a pedestal. It is much smaller. Fuck i didn’t mean to say that.”
The DA looks shuffles through his notes “Um…. then it just trails off into a bunch of cartoon frogs” he mutters.
“First of all,” says the cat “ Pussy should be absolutely be on a pedestal. it‘s beautiful, and it creates life. Like the holy grail, or the sorcerer’s stone.”
Speaking of… it’s international women’s day. I see all these tender Facebook posts by well intentioned men about their exceptional mothers and daughters and sisters. And I feel sad. I’m not exceptional. I’m no one’s mother. Even if i was, as these sons and husbands lift up their loved ones, all i see is the distance the height creates.
“My mother taught me that women can be strong and beautiful and brave and amazing cooks and fierce and loyal and run her own business all while being a literal a tidal wave of love and affection to me and my 7 brothers.”
… Are you really describing Mrs. Stevenson? Because this sounds more like the Egyptian goddess of light. Yeah, I get it. Hyperbole isn’t a crime. You say these things because you love your mom. But l’real and Yoplait and Gwyneth Paltrow are saying it because the want my money, and maybe my soul. And it feels like just another pedestal.
And you know, MAYBE I WANT TO BE ON THAT DAMN PEDESTAL. To climb to the top and be worshiped by a bearded man who soliloquizes my mystical otherness and buys me a house and gives up on understanding my ways because “femininity is mysterious and inscrutable like the ocean or the moon or magnets.”
But those alabaster columns are slick and tall and cold. And i keep falling on my my ass that, no matter how much weight i gain or lose, will always be ridiculous and covered in cellulite which is just another word for failure. And even if i could get up there… Even if i fashion tools to overcome myself. I leave my stomach in the gym or in front of the toilet, but it’s okay because it’s not really bulimia if you don’t use your finger and just focus on the terror of creating more of yourself until you throw up *naturally.* I leave my anger in the self help books and meditation apps. I bury my desire for children deep deep in a labyrinth of compartmentalization because cool girls don’t want kids and only cool girls find boyfriends who will marry them and give them kids and why can’t you just be fucking chill about it? And i cut and a burn and i bury until i’m finally light enough to float above that pale white square. But what’s left of me?
I keep thinking of my mom, and the accident that took her first daughter and so many other things. But it made room for my father. And then me. When we were young she sat us down and said she was going to leave him. We screamed at her and cried “how could she do this to us.”
So she stayed.
And she says she doesn’t mind.
She loves us.
He really is a good father.
Nothing else really matters.
And I watched as she removed the parts of herself that made staying harder. And now she keeps her paintings in an attic and her first child’s pictures in a box and lives quietly.
Will i be like my mother? Will i be Like Brianne? Safe and lonely and silent?
Cutting and burying and pruning the garden of myself, and repeating this mantra that it’s all what I want. Because … it is. No one has a gun to my head telling me to diminish, or else. The call is coming from inside the house. What i am, and what i want, are mutually exclusive. Or at least that’s what i keep hearing. That taunting truth vibrates inside me like a subwoofer blasting from the earth’s core and if you say you can’t hear it i don’t believe you but isn’t that what all crazy people say? I know these aren’t groundbreaking observations, I’ve read ‘A Room of One’s Own’. And Audre Lorde. And Jezebel. But how much longer till this river is dammed? Will it ever be?
But i don’t have the luxury of waiting for construction permits. I’m betrayed by biology and time, those co-conspirators always fuck up everything. So, I’ll either stop, or keep cutting until i’m on that shelf with Brianne and my mother and all the others who’ve given everything they could until all that’s left is quietly existing.
But hey if it works, it doesn’t matter, i don’t mind.
Schrodinger’s cat is spitting and cursing at the Devil’s Advocate. He finally scuttles away, but the smell of his singed pinstripe suite remains.
“I don’t understand why Luce’ doesn’t just represent himself. At least *he’s* charming.”
“Yeah but he loved Keanu in that movie, and you know no one loves a call back joke like the devil”
“Oh! Speaking of Keanu, you know the stupidest thing about Men’s Rights Activists? These human trash cans always talk about how you should ‘take the red pill’ like from The Matrix. A movie written by two transgender women.”
“The world is one bitter irony after another isn’t it”