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On Catharsis

I think I finally clicked together something that I haven't been able to most my life.

When I was young I held myself to an absurd standard in my entertainment. I demanded everything be intellectually engaging at the highest level and balked from anything less, lest I succumb to base popular pursuits and all discipline fail.

As a result, I have had few guilty pleasures in terms of entertainment - someone once described them as mental twinkies - and those I have had all been in the last few years, really. But recently a bout of illness landed me on the couch, stunned and miserable and at half-capacity, and I picked up a temptation that had been making rounds among my (intellectual! loud! feminist! - in short, admirable) high school friends, rewatching Gilmore Girls from the start.

And suddenly, I get it, in a way I didn't then.

Leaving aside the eerie familiarity of some of the family structure and intense kinship with the younger of the protagonists... I suddenly get what it is to crave catharsis through fiction, what it means. It's not that I've never had the urge to go find a friend - what is fiction with a likable protagonist but a demi-friendship? - going through something comparable to my present situation before, but I've never been able to see the reason why it should be necessary.

For all my reflexive, self-reflective analysis, I discount my own feelings and problems. I elevate those of others. Characters are others, and the most cherished sort moreover, from the genre of friends who we carry with us for years and years and who we so often pick right back up with just where we had left off.

My own feelings aren't important enough for me to give time or mental space to, often enough, but these fictitious friends are precious and cherished and real to me in a way I sometimes am not. I will defend their right to be weak or vulnerable or needy in a way I could not possibly ever justify or see as conscionable in myself. They are beautiful in their foibles and petty concerns, and I waver between feeling distastefully excessive, emotions spilling over the tiny acceptable vessel hopelessly set to the task of constraining them - precisely the same social connotations as the idea of what it is to be fat, rewritten in an emotional context - and feeling rightfully overwhelming, as if perhaps I was not born to be so small and footling as I have been so often told, that the tiny vessel set aside for me to inhabit is worthless and useless and irrelevant, as if the wave that rears up and threatens to engulf me is a flood tide and I am a mountain to have withstood it so long and it is no small marvel that I have managed to brace and shield the world from obliteration under its crashing.

I am still too tired to write.