A Manifesto on Writing

There’s an Italian superstition known as the malocchio…also known as the maloik in modern Italian-American vernacular, that the motherly figures in my life warned me about at a very young age. More colloquially known as an evil eye, it’s a type of infliction that a desperate or bitter person can condemn onto a subject by communing with the great void that surrounds us, and transferring that negative energy into their victim’s head-space and environment in strange and haunting ways. It’s an esoteric concept that, on its face, exists as a reminder to be humble, kind and earnest in interaction with others. But in facing the true depth of this arcane knowledge, this warning represented a deep fear, held by my family, of other people. Acquisition of this insight imbues in you a natural and seemingly insurmountable distrust in others; it’s difficult to just shoo away the knowledge that anyone, no matter how foreign or close, are capable of placing a great burden that can encumber your life and that of your kin.

I’ve feared the malocchio a lot as a child…and as an adult I’ve learned to cope and stymie it with humor and dispassion towards others. And a year or so ago I began to think that maybe the curse was already unavoidable; in my darkest fears I tend to think that a malocchio had already been enchanted on my family tree a long time ago. There’s comfort in knowing that the suffocating darkness that peeks around the corners of my thoughts aren’t my fault. Recognizing the malocchio as an extant out of my control grants some reason to the mental discord that tends to rip into my sense of safety and complacency with such frequency.

If you’ve made it this far…first I want to thank you for indulging me in this affair. But second, I want to disclose why, exactly, I’m subjecting my thoughts to you in this way. In text, I feel like I can best express myself, as well as indulge in the idea that I’m a smarter and more thoughtful person than I fear I really am. I’ve always wanted to be a more honest and forthright person, but never had the personal strength to combat my fear of others and the world in a personal or public setting. Writing, in a lot of ways, helps stave off those ethereal fears, and allows me to remember that reason and sense and education can push away the malocchio and the void that follows it.  But also, writing gives me hope that somewhere, in these run-on sentences and mismatched syntax, I’ll make a delayed connection with someone who might share my fears, anxieties, or postulations about our shared reality.

In starting this blog…I hope to create a mental forum where I can track my thoughts and ideas, and share them with others in a context separated from the poison of social media. Across the soon to come pages, you’ll find declarations, reviews, diatribes, essays, art, audits and analyses performed and executed in an amateurish way. I hope that you’ll be able to at least find a momentary distraction – something to occupy your attention on a break or out of sheer boredom. At best, I hope to establish credibility as someone worth receiving insight or diagnosis from. 

Self-doubt plagues a lot of what I do…It led me to be reclusive and anxious, shy and hidden, for the majority of my life. I started working laborious jobs at a very young age, and those early experiences introduced me to the tedium and disappointment of modern American work ethic. There wasn’t much to do in my youthful work except think, which for a kid is a cruel kind of torture. My negative memories of this early work inspired me to commit myself to study, but also led me to eschewing the sort of social and recreational activity that a natural human maturation necessitates. I always feared making the wrong move and being banished to the kitchen to put on the busboy’s smock, or being sent back to the warehouse to stack more metal on top of itself. To this end, speaking is not a skill I’ve refined, but in writing, I feel that I am able to express myself and my opinions with greater control and clarity. Presenting myself through this medium is a form of therapy as well as social participation. 

As to why I’m declaring all this…well I feel it’s important to be up front with readers about where, exactly, I’m coming from. Written words can be as pointless as they are beautiful, or malicious as they are honest. I want to provide a space where others, but more importantly myself, can find a record of my ideas delivered in an honest way in a context of my own choosing. 

Before I leave you…I’d like to share George Orwell’s theory about writing as a concept; specifically, his ideas, as presented in his essay Why I Write, which postulates on the decision to write publicly and partake in this indulgent hobby in the first place. The topics below are his own, but I’ve synthesized them in my own writing:

(i)     Sheer egoism. The desire to be heard – to be known – to be respected. This is the most fundamental impulse to write and I think any person who publishes or participates in the hobby is dishonest, either with their readers or themselves, if they do not acknowledge this as a primary influence. Some people can share great invention through the manipulation of wood or metal, or can translate their most esoteric thoughts into color or stippled ink; but as someone who lacks the dexterity of a builder or the discipline of an artist, this is the simplest way for me to breach the minds of others. 

(ii)     Aesthetic enthusiasm. Appreciation for meaning, prose and syntax. This is the attempt to share with others the admiration in the beauty that can exist in the connection of units of language. The delicate weaving of a great composition can inspire readers to ponder thoughts or ideas in ways unheard or unthinkable before. Poets understand this notion with great alacrity; but as someone who lacks the poet’s grace, I can at best gesture at this as a concept and pray a reader will afford me the benefit of their doubt. 

(iii)     Historical impulse. To create an accounting of time, place, and fact. With the advent of social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and cynical marketing departments, ledgers of context are a rarer thing in our world. I’ve found there to be a disturbing lack of consistent, reliable and legible musings of opinion from my generation. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have devalued prose and composition to the point where even the most direct of language is scrubbed and scrutinized to mean things that weren’t intended. While the language of emoji and the scrubbed beauty of a selfie are artforms of their own, their ambiguity affords disastrous misinterpretation and can mask dubious intent. As stated above, keeping a record of my primitive thoughts and half-baked hot-takes are a way for me to keep an honest record of my own intentions so that I can hold myself accountable to them. In making them public, I hope to open my inner-most musings to criticism and challenge so that I can better refine my own judgement. 

(iv)     Political purpose. Politics here is to be interpreted in its broadest definition. This is the use of writing to influence and enact change in the world to fit a certain end. This could be banal as swaying opinion on a brand of toothpaste, to as heinous as stirring mass uprising and anguish in groups of people. As Orwell stated so boldly, no work of writing, or art for that matter, is devoid of political meaning or intent. The assumption that the presentation of art or language can be devoid of political value is itself a (retrograde) political position. The postings represented on this blog will do much to reflect and argue for my personal politics, and I make no attempt to hide my determination in spreading my own personal gospel.