I recently read a chapter from the book “Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence” by Judith Butler. The chapter is titled “Precarious Life”. I want to pull out a few amazing lines from that chapter and then talk about journaling.
She writes: “… In some way we come to exist, as it were, in this moment of being addressed, and something about our existence proves precarious when that address fails.” (Pg 130)
“No one controls the terms by which one is addressed, at least not in a fundamental way. To be addressed is to be, from the start, deprived of will, and to have that deprivation exist as the basis of one’s situation in discourse.” (Pg 139)
What do you think about the idea that you come to exist in the moment that something or someone addresses you?
Here are a few of my thoughts: I find that both a beautiful and a super scary thought. The beautiful part is that this makes existence relational. This explains the joy experienced when a pet greets us at the door. This explains how a good conversation with a friend can lift your spirits. Of course, this can also explain why it hurts, causes deep pain, when feelings we have are unrequited. Why it hurts when someone forgets our birthday or doesn’t return a smile offered when walking down the street. In these cases, our existence is in question.
For those of you who have worked hard all of your life to try to control the way you are perceived by others, this thought has to be scary and it only gets scarier. Butler says that we can’t control when or how we will be addressed and, thus, there is an aspect of will that is automatically stripped of being an option. Part of life will be grappling with the fact that I cannot control how “I” am being defined by others and, thus, I cannot control my own existence.
So how does journaling fit into this?
Journaling is a form of address. Journaling can provide a space for you to determine what it means for you to exist; to practice existing, so to speak.