Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Between self-help and total social revolution

The other day I was announcing the fact that I'd wangled a month in the country to write a book. Usually there are very few comments on my blog — but this post was somehow noticed by Mumsnet, and then caused a micro-ripple in the blogosphere. 

The gist of the post was that I had felt the ire and judgement of people when I told them I was going away, and had assumed they thought I was a bad mother for leaving my duties for such a long time. 

But the comments were an absolute revelation — people were not judging, they simply felt jealous

I'll write about jealousy another time, but in the heat of the moment, this is what I felt, and wrote as a comment. 

I saw afterwards that it's really the heart of the book I am trying to write:
Oh no! the last thing I want to inspire is jealousy — I want everyone to find a way to do whatever it is they need to be happy. 
— Part of that is a serious critique of the ideologies governing life in Britain now. 
— Part of it is working out ways to challenge the remarkably limiting status quo, subverting it if full scale change is not possible. 
— Part of it is trying to refind some sense of solidarity rather than the loneliness and alienation I currently feel (not through being alone in a cottage, but through being trapped in the contemporary notion of what a mother is and does). 
— Part of it is overcoming the barriers I myself throw up, and hear others throwing up, to positive change, and dealing with the fear of failure — or the acceptance of failure if it comes. 
What I'm trying to do is somewhere between self-help and total social revolution by peaceful means. 
Proust is the greatest analyst of jealousy and envy there is, and he understands they are both acids, one that corrodes our capacity to love, the other that corrodes our capacity to create. At best they form the alloy admiration, which we can use to inspire ourselves, but which itself threatens to compound our feelings of worthlessness. I don't want anyone to feel jealous. I just want people to start their own guerrilla campaign for personal freedom.
I guess I'm taking my own medicine.

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