Most of us are guilty of this at some point: writing in cryptics. Why?
Why do we do it? Why express ourselves in terms that are not meant to be understood? Is it a subconscious desire to be public with our private issues? Is it more about reaching out, or being reached out to?
Related to this (but some similar principles) is the term ‘vaguebook’: to publish vague, possibly concerning statements that prompt friends to ask for more details privately.
Aside from studying a poet forever burying truth between his lines (if we are ever meant to find it at all), what interests me is the tendency to overcomplicate problems, either out of shame, embarrassment or pride.
Scenario: person A is in a relationship but goes to spend the day with person B, to whom they are attracted. Person A ends the day feeling sheepish, unsettled and awkward, and explains it off as ‘it’s complicated’. It’s not complicated, but guilt and other unpleasant sensations have created a defensive response. The majority of us tie situations in knots to avoid unescapable truths.
I’m no exception. One of my main attractions to poetry is how often it shrouds truths that are too painful or disappointing to contemplate. Thomas Wyatt’s sonnet ‘I find no peace’ mulls mysteriously over such an awkward (if straightforward) problem.
Convictions and courage
Once conscious of the disguising of truth, it’s quite striking how different brands of truth emerge, not least that which untangles rather than tangles.
A friend of mine, who excuses me for this example, wrote something online a few years ago regarding a family member. This was then spotted and read by its subject. His reaction, unthinkingly, was to call up and talk it over rather than acting evasively.
Such transparency is unusual and refreshing. My old LiveJournal became so cryptic that it was simply not fair to keep writing. There are different reasons for inhibition, and despite the fact we overcomplicate things, that does not mean everything is simple.
Transparency takes courage, self-confidence, and faith in the understanding of others. I do not claim to have an abundance of any of these qualities. This past week in particular has shattered the latter.
Hence, I understand why cryptics happen. It’s a risk these days to admit lowness in public. As Al Allday has recently noted, ‘selfish media’ has put pay to that. How, then, do we let off steam to make ourselves better?
Cryptics are not always about deceit. Sometimes there’s a calculated or necessary circumvention – a case of needing support without the shame or awkward questions that touch upon the blistering truth.
But I wonder if patience is wearing thin for my own indecipherable utterances. Many things I prefer not to talk about straightforwardly, but that does not excuse cryptics. Reaching out has to be done constructively.
The last week was a bad one; somebody I was trying to warm to laid on an astonishingly personal attack. Can I be excused for not wanting to say too much more?
A masque for seekers
I have come to accept being a fundamentally unattractive kind of person, and even to grace the benefits – it heightens my reactions to the promise of nicer things and nicer people. I have not yet come to accept being a target of invective. If only I could show any sign of giving back rather than just absorbing it.
Perhaps that itself is some positive function or personal fallacy for the world. To detail this is not only to relive what was said, but also to restate it and re-contemplate its validity. A human vacuum cleaner of others’ insecurity and bile. It’s a truth which, quite honestly, I don’t expect people to believe. There must be better things ahead.
I dedicate this to a dear friend, seen for the first time in over four years yesterday. He never liked cutting through the ribbons of what I was trying to say, but straight talking has always proven his uncomplicated love. He is the catalyst behind great things and, in living, makes the world a better place. God bless, Sy.