Diary (14) "Alienation"

Posted on May 31, 2009

Diary (14): Alienation

May 31st 2009

(NOTE: there was a photo here of somebody kissing the TV presenter goodnight.
Apparently, a known phenomenon where extreme loneliness affects people. The link was broken, and I can’t find a copy)

When I first saw this photo, I was actually looking for something totally different. I was trying to illustrate a story I had written called "Meeting Mrs Bird", which featured my then sweetheart Natalie. And her older sister. Of decidedly bovine dimensions. Who immediately took a strong dislike to me. And I of course, being a gentleman, well……, I guess you need to read the story.  Anyway, I had entered "ugly cow" in the search engine attached to a website for free photos, and I have no idea how this particular photo came up. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.  The photo immediately brought back a strong memory.  I left a note for the photographer,saying:
                                                                                                                       
"Usually a story is written and goes looking for photos.
In this case, the photo is written already, and I shall go fill in the story…."        
                                                                  

The verb written to describe a photo I believe was correct. I thought then – and I still do- that this was a brilliant painting. The memory was that of a visit I made to the apartment of a troubled female friend. In Dublin, Ireland.
I had found the apartment building alright. It was a large old house, which had been converted into ten self contained single units. There was one central hallway, with the mail boxes, and a row of bells with the names of the occupants beside them.  Hers was missing. I looked and looked, but I was unable to find her name. So I innocently decided to knock on somebody’s door and ask…
The door I selected was on the main hallway. Every occupant in the house would pass through that place. They would mingle there, presumably, collecting their mail, or putting their coats on before venturing outside. In this manner, a resident would soon learn to recognize the other tenants by sight, if not by name?  I knocked on the door, from behind which I could hear the sound of a television. The result surprised me. A high pitched woman’s voice, obviously frightened, asked me who was there. I apologized, and -very politely- inquired if she might know the room number of one Miss Moira McLoughlin…. In answer, she practically screamed out:   

"I don’t know anybody in this house! Please go away!"   

The fear was unmistakable. And if that reaction wasn’t strange enough, the television volume was instantly turned up full volume, as if to drown out the sound of my polite inquiry…


Photo: DerrickT

It registered with me at the time as a sad alienation. That somebody could live alone in such a building, surrounded by people, and not know any of them. With only the television for companionship. And refuge from crisis….  It seemed wrong somehow, unnatural, and awfully sad. When in later life, I heard stories from social workers about people who kissed the Television reporter goodnight before going to bed, I was not surprised. My encounter -through a closed door- with this strangely terrified woman had prepared me for that. Loneliness surrounded by people. Loneliness in the big city. Loneliness and isolation with only the make believe world of Television for some kind of surrogate support.                                                                                                                                    

I believe this photo is a Masterpiece. Although obviously staged, it nonetheless captures brilliantly the anonymity of a faceless city dweller, lost in the urban wilderness, reaching out, pathetically, to touch the face of a Television Being.

It makes me feel the urge to reach out. To stretch forth a friendly hand, even through a medium as diluted and esoteric as Cyberspace. People still need people.  Real people.
I write, I scribble, and I hope I come across as a real person, a creature of flesh and blood.

With real feelings…

Francis Meyrick
     (c)

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on June 10, 2013, 6:13 pm


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3 responses to Diary (14) "Alienation"

  1. That’s the saddest thing I’ve read and I think the part about someone kissing the television screen passes sad right by and goes direct to tragic – pitiful.

    I once did some research about people and touch – human touch – like hugging and its effect on others. I cannot remember it all before a second cup of coffee, but one thing I remember distincly was that babies who were orphaned in the war and crammed into poorly staffed orphanages died from lack of being touched. Its called ‘failure to thrive’.

    We never outgrow those needs. In Maslow’s heirarchy, after food and shelter – we all need
    to feel loved or even included, belonging – a sense of connectedness if you will.

    Poets/lyricists have tried to warn us of this:

    Quote"And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more
    People talking without speaking
    People hearing without listening
    People writing songs that voices never share
    And no one dared
    Disturb the sound of silence"
    Simon and Garfunkel
    On the other hand, we have to be willing to share ourselves and our pain with others.

    Quote”People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”
    Jim Morrison

    Never fear about your own humanity my friend – not as long as you have the ability to express your pain – to rage against the dying of the light -The "light" in this case being the warmth of the human spirit – the spark of what is divine in all of us.

    Great write. Great photos. I like this – even if the topic evokes some feelings of distress.

  2. Great comment, Katie.

    Photo "child reaching" by AKphotos

  3. You meet someone on the battlefield and your first fear is that it is an enemy. Your second fear is that it is an ally..

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