Thursday, December 31, 2009

interiorism

A Public Space, in its own words, is "an independent magazine of literature and culture. Founded in 2005, the magazine is a forum for new ideas and new conversations, and each issue brings together a wide range of global voices to tell the stories of the twenty-first century." I found one of those new ideas in an essay titled, "Sail On, My Little Honey Bee," by Amy Leach, an idea that is helping me as a writer see the world in a clearer way and touch it with more sympathetic hands. Ms. Leach received a Rona Jaffe Award, an award given to writers of exceptional talent, and has written a collection of essays, "Things That Are."

The new idea that I discovered is a philosophy, the philosophy of Interiorism, a way of thinking, being, and doing in the world that teaches that "truth is to be known by introspection." I understand it as a way of looking inside of things to find their essence.

Oliver Sacks, the wonderful neurologist and writer, helps me further understand Interiorism in the preface of his great book, "Awakenings," a story of the patients at Mount Carmel Hospital in New York who were afflicted with encephalitis lethargica just after World War I and had been "asleep" until the spring of 1969 when Dr. Sacks helped them "awaken" with a remarkable drug called L-DOPA. In that preface, Sacks refers to his patients as "worlds" that require "not a static and systematic formulation, but an active exploration of images and views, a continual jumping-about and imaginative movement". A philosophy of Exteriorism is interested in those static and systematic formulations, in those things that can be observed on the outside. Interiorism, however, is interested in seeing people as worlds and in exploring the inside of these worlds with imagination.

It is a serendipity to find out about Interiorism in Ms. Leach's essay. To find a name and a meaning for thoughts and feelings that I have had for as long as I can remember is a wonderful thing. My culture has attempted to teach me that "Vederi Quam Esse," that to seem to be is more important than to be. But something inside of me rebels against this teaching and turns it upside down. Interiorism helps me raise my fist into the air and shout out, "Esse Quam Videri," to be is more important than to seem to be, and look for the essence of people, places, and things.



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