Saturday, 4 October 2014

Making it personal

I've always been a fan of the first-person narrative. It feels more honest to acknowledge my subjectivity than to try to pretend I have a universal point of view. Attempts at objectivity, in my view, are simply attempts to match that dubious gold standard set by countless generations of writers before me, themselves misguided. It's an unpopular view I hold, and I'm aware that by regularly highlighting my postmodern stance I alienate a lot of people who might otherwise enjoy my writing, but it wouldn't be me to neglect this feature of my work.

I wouldn't be the same person if I didn't know that one of my favourite authors values the view that postmodernism is to blame for many a modern ill. I would be a more popular one, and perhaps a less humble one. Recently a friend of mine wished me a good night by expressing relief that I 'shared her thoughts.' I don't believe it's possible for two people to have the same mental processes, since my present-day thoughts are a result of everything that's ever gone through my mind in the past - a unique series of events which no-one is able to replicate (let alone fathom).

Yet we persist with the 'objectivity' lens. It's the hallmark of choice for much quality journalism, the primary narrative tool of scientific discourse, and unlikely to go out of fashion anytime soon. This post addresses it because it keeps popping up here, there and everywhere, preventing me from fully enjoying a piece, and robbing its readers of vital insights that can only arise when one admits to being beautifully limited to this funny thing called being a human being. Instead, countless talented writers struggle to erase the signs of their uniqueness. Isn't the reliance on cliches a testament to the mentality that believes in a universal truth? Objectivity is a disingenuous thing, the concern with it eating away at a writer's belief in the power of their own voice. It's much braver to lose the fake consciousness and learn how to celebrate the first-person perspective as the key to the deepest truth you can tell - the truth of yourself.

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