Do not argue, do. That’s what I said and did. The shape of arguing isn’t interesting. Sentences flag. Attacking isn’t being. Attacking isn’t arguing either. Arguing is more appealing than attacking but being is better than both. Turning away isn’t interesting, but it can be blinding. When walking away it is best to walk with purpose. A way of walking that is thinking. Walking with purpose then is creating. The best response is being and doing and creating. Many consider simply being an attack. My being me is hostile because it isn’t what you thinks me should be. Me is elusive. So is I but I often doesn’t know I enough to know who I is and that I is some I apart from a larger force. Someone different being themselves is sometimes attacking without even doing. Is being attacking? Simply being without even doing? No one can argue with a body of work. They can not like the body but they can’t argue that it isn’t there.
Actually apparently they can. Apparently they can argue that, even while tripping over them, entire physical things are not there. They can also argue that many things are at a given place. They can then use these ideas to attack, so you see, as with the atomic bomb, it isn’t interesting. I have seen wars and I can tell you they aren’t interesting to be in. Maybe they are interesting to plan and discuss from a far off room but within they are not at all pleasant. Arguing is an activity for its own sake nothing else.
I have said elsewhere that sentences on their own are without emotion but interesting sentences deflate attack. So you see being is a kind of leaping because it is reaching. Sentences need air. One builds a paragraph like one builds a fire: a log, a log, a log, makes a place for air and a place for flames. Withholding creates gaps. But gaps need to be in proportion. Gaps too wide dampen. Gaps too narrow stifle. It is the same with being. Words are like logs. Words are like being. When a person argues what wins is the arguing. Arguing is like suddenly finding the world less convenient. Or space that is spiked. Space can be good, or it can be like a moat.
People say I didn’t mention enough of life. But of what life? And whose idea of it? Being earnest isn’t more of anything. When one is being life one doesn’t worry about hitting other people’s notes. One doesn’t worry about other people reading one’s notes either. One simply is and by being and doing one makes space for difference. Small gaps aerate culture and new ideas grow.
Now you may or may not appreciate that being and doing are not the same as complying and not arguing is not being truthful and being earnest is but I am here to say that being is more forceful than arguing and even better than saying is writing down, but not quite as good as thinking, which is after all the precursor to writing and difficult to say is not existing. I am me for me, not in response to you. I am not your idea of me reinforced in arguing. I am my idea of me in writing. Writing is what you and me are thinking. What is revealed is what you value. If you value being and doing it is useful because it makes a map for others. If you value and leave no trace you leave no map for others. Feeling full for it, that’s what to do. And do again with feeling.
And that is how to be yourself and make a difference.
I originally wrote this piece for Delirious Hem, in response to the Numbers Trouble Issue of the Chicago Review. I revised it for the fabulous Matrix New Feminisms issue. When asked to speak on the matter of contemporary feminism it’s what I am inclined to say.
Or, I could simply point people to this video: