Awareness is a funny thing. how something can lurk just beneath the surface of consciousness for who knows how long, until one day it dawns suddenly upon one that they think, or like, or don’t think, or don’t like x. a curious frisson is produced, almost akin to the sensation one has when, after gazing idly and blankly off into space for some time, one realizes that they have been staring at some poor unfortunate soul who was just trying to read some Tintin in the Second Cup, for god’s sake.
the realization that something has been there, and it has taken this long for one to notice it, can be liberating or disquieting – a minor weight lifted, or rather an insistent clawing at the hem of one’s mind’s garment. the shock of witnessing the face appear in the window is acute, after all, but not so insistently disturbing as the recognition that it has been there all along, or worse, that one is unable to say when or how it appeared. setting aside the dubious analogy suggesting the possibility of getting all murdered, to adapt this little tableau to the stage of selfhood nonetheless produces chilling intimations of non-self-identity, raising (oblique pun intended) the spectre that identity may itself be a process of paradoxical self-haunting. right?
* * *
of late i have realized that i hate espresso cups that have the word espresso or café or, still worse, cappuccino printed on them. i find it distinctly annoying. really all coffee vessels that describe their (implied) contents, usually in as many fonts as the surface area allows. i can account for this dislike by nothing more than a vague sense that such proclamations are gauche and unnecessary, emanating presumably from a repugnantly elitist and fervently (if ineffectually) disavowed intellectual prejudice favouring the esoteric, fetishizing the subtle – “my tastes speak for themselves, no need to harp about it. if you don’t get it, perhaps you shouldn’t. etc.” (although allowances are often made, as in bands whose names invoke their genre – Metallica, the Skatalites, Soulfly…). its volatility probably only the panicked reaction of the poor bourgeois subject beset on all sides by vulgarity. be at the ready with the smelling salts, won’t you, i am being accosted by bad design.
anyway, this thought had been bonking around in my head for a few weeks, and arising, much to the limited interest of those around me, in this and that conversation, when what should materialize in my apartment (grace à my roommate, i assume) but such an artefact as for this phenomenon no better archetype could be provided.
“What good fortune,” i thought to myself, “as i am about to drink this delicious ginger-sea-salt hot chocolate, what better opportunity to juxtapose this mug with another that may serve as a tasteful counterpoint!”
see, i wanted to put a positive spin on the topic – ‘this is a cup i loathe, and this is a cup i love, behold!’ now, we don’t happen to own any plain mugs (incomprehensibly), and so i chose one of a set left to us by a former roommate that we always felt to rather tasteful chosen in spite of the cacophony of partly thought-out tattoos that his body has become.
“What a handsome mug,” i said, “and . . . oh. hm.”
i consider it to my credit that i went ahead and posted this at all.
what is it that they say, “The imagination, that’s God’s gift to make the act of self-examination bearable”?
awareness is a funny thing.
* in retrospect, i really don’t know whether this makes me more or less of a snob.