As I continue to read NAW, I’m intrigued by the Silentists’ (not to be confused with Scientologists) search for perfect stillness. Stillness to me is the absolute of nothingness. A lack of movement indicates a lack of growth, change, pursuit, thought, feelings, desires, or anything else for that matter. To be perfectly still, one makes no decisions; one simply is, or rather, isn’t. I began to think about us and our desire to be perfect and how often we try to capture our “perfection” permanently.
I recently spoke to a student about her trying to get into college. She mentioned the fact that she had the right SAT score, the right ACT score, the right GPA, the right course load, the right amount of extra curriculars all to produce the right college application. In other words, the right snapshot of her at the right time that would allow universities to see her right perfection. All of which indicates, through binary opposition, that if it isn’t right, it’s wrong.
But what percentage of our lives do we achieve this perfect stillness?
In this wondrous world that allows us to share our lives with everyone instantaneously it may seem daft to say that we only share our perfections with the world. Yes, you can find 100 mistakes (grammatical or otherwise) a second on facebook, twitter, etc… However, the individuals who make those mistakes often don’t hold those mistakes as important or defacing, and therefore don’t care. Let’s call these mistakes, therefore, non-positives. Positives, therefore, are what people focus on making perfect, and remember, these positives are an instantaneous, permanent stillness.
We must consider the motivation behind why we post something on the internet. Sometimes it is linked to sharing information with others, but most of the time it is self promotion. This can come in the form of:
*a profile picture (How many pictures do you have to take of yourself before it comes out right? What makes you change it?)
*a post/tweet (Look at what I’m doing, eating, thinking etc… right now. Look how happy/creative/smart I am.)
We are constantly compiling data that shows us the way we want to be seen and we don’t allow ourselves to be seen in any other way than the way we want to be seen. Hence we are showing ourselves to the world in stills, momentary glimpses of our right selves.
I have a friend, Doug Cason, whose art has focused on individuals posting pictures of themselves on the internet. He found the background the most fascinating, when recreating this media in painting, because while the subject/photographer was so concerned with the subject/themselves, they paid no attention to what else was included in the picture, and the backgrounds were a jumble of random objects. They inadvertently were imperfect (non-positive) in their attempt to be perfect (positive). The same way my student, who unfortunately didn’t get into the school of her choice, was imperfect (non-positive) in her attempt to be perfect (positive). Thus proving that the attempt at permanent stillness is flawed.
Marcus explores this through his Silentists attempt at perfect stillness. The destruction that follows, to family and non-family alike, shows the fallacy of perfection given that even in moments of still perfection there is imperfection. It is growth to nothingness.