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that stuff
2003-01-09 - 1:14 p.m.

Right, um, here's that stuff that I wrote before, about forgiveness.

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The phrase, “forgive and forget” always used to trouble me and I imagine partly at least it was because I hated that word “forgive”. But now, I wonder, if I don’t see a different kind of problem with it.

It occurs to me that to genuinely forgive someone requires a full and deep understanding of what they have done. That is, forgiveness demands the opposite of forgetting. Resentment, in its own way, is about forgetting, because it wants you to cling to certain portions of your memory while blocking out certain others. It does not want you to be present to the full picture, and therefore it… well, in fact, isn’t that why the memory begins to fade of its own accord, why it requires such resolute hatred in order to cling to it, because without the full picture, the cardboard cut-out scene lacks any liveliness of its own, becomes a thin caricature with no substance to hold on to?

It seems that forgiveness, on the other hand, requires that the heart be filled with a true memory, which sees the tragedy and the injustice, yes; but also the reason for that tragedy, the full humanity of the author of that injustice.

I kept thinking about the girl who was so resentful and angry that there weren’t enough women writers in the course, and how she set up the positions in order to put us in the wrong. And part of what it requires is an idealisation of what the teacher should be, this kind of imaginary world in which the teacher manages to achieve fairness… what I really want, of course, is not fairness but the satisfaction of my unfair and unreasonable desires. But when I feel hurt because these desires are denied, I use fairness as an alibi for them. Self righteously proclaiming, “I’m not asking for (whatever it is I really want), I just want things done properly.” This makes of self-righteousness a kind of sulk, too, because of course in order to maintain that self-righteous position I in fact have to deny myself the thing that I want in order to prove that that’s not what I’m really after. The tragedy is that I perpetuate the lack or loss in my life in order to revenge myself… is that right? Or rather, is it in order not to have to go through the harrowing feeling of being denied, of being inadequate (or inadequately satisfied – “I am inadequate” could be described as the lack of recognition, which I desire) and finding, through that process, some kind of forgiveness. In order to stay angry at the person who has failed to satisfy my desire, I must deny that desire itself, and therefore lose the possibility of satisfaction… there’s something more here. I’m thinking of the rigidity of thinking I get into when I’m being self-righteous, the kind of denial of humanity that’s involved in it, the lack of…

…I guess the other important thing that happens here is that I lose my pity for other people who want the thing that I wanted and that was denied to them. In all likelihood, I end up denying them in the same way… if we’re talking about something like recognition.

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"Is she really going out with him?

Is she really gonna take him home tonight?

'Cause if my eyes don't deceive me there's something going wrong around here" - Joe Jackson


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