The Disappearing Act

When somebody disappears, intentionally, it is equally as random to the onlooker as it is premeditated to the disappeared. In Theory, the Disappearing has the element of charm and mystery – which, of course, the actor does with pleasure, “Behold as I present to you…” donning the magician’s cape as she smirks from under her top hat. A flourish in which the act is charmingly executed. This showmanship reveals itself in that, and gives truth to the Practical reality: This is all a bit of farce really, but what counts is to see the glittery drama of it all – you, the enchanted audience. Therein lies the truth of what it actually meant to me to disappear from everything: social media, friends, family and school – to leave the country for two years in some blatant search for me, myself and I. A magical act that depended so much more on what others thought than what I had imagined myself. Why do we have the urge to this? And what is the result of such a leap?

The chorus has spoken, back to the play. And so – end scene, the enchantress exits, cape and hat in tow. We, or they – the other actors and the audience, are left bewildered and the job is done. Any onlooker of these two parties is also mildly intrigued, a satisfied addition to the enchantress. But this is a play and only mimicry of real life, the enchantress really just finds herself backstage, a young immature 21-year-old who is a little too dependent on the reaction of others to feel real purpose in her life. And that’s a normal sort of messed-up, I guess. Everyone wants everyone else to know that the drama of life is playing out in its most artful form in this person’s life. Of course, everybody’s got their own life so why the fu*k does E. think that she’s that interesting, no-one knows. But she’ll try to play the part in any case. God knows that tiny little narcissistic streak says she’s dying to be the main character of everyone else’s show.

In any case, this lady right here feels severely out-of-sorts when she has even one day to herself alone to reflect. She questions all the reasons why the day found itself in such a way – vide of her only reassurance of her own life – the thoughts and words of others that replace her own. The tangents assemble in an organised mess to the less impressionable mind. In this sense, we see this play as it is – playing to only one facet of an entire diamond, a limited theatrical display.

I think that’s what the Enchantress forgets sometimes – that the theatre of life and its alleged Screenwriter is too generous to give one role from beginning to the end. If there was One, One Great Screenwriter – it is certain that she does not exist as we imagine Her. On the contrary, it’s even evident that she is in her own play, with even her own audience, each member their own dogged opinions and word to say.

It started valiantly though: the Enchantress auditioned for her role, intently, expressively desiring what she thought the role was and what it would lead to. Gazes of desire, wishful thinking and desire resting on her elegant shoulders. Conversation and laughter in a glittery mirage, a shimmering cloud, centred around her, drifting as she does so herself. So many desires and wishes that she has the key to; a genie that keeps itself in the most delicate porcelain vase. The Enchantress would indeed, like to enchant.

She doesn’t realise, maybe she just wasn’t taught. She isn’t just the embodiment of others’ reactions to her, indeed if her thing is to enchant, then of course that’s to say that she’s what others have made of her. And that, of course, is always a little insufficient. I have my magician’s cape and top hat – but I am in dire need of pyjamas (or just my own skin, it depends) to get my 8 hours of sleep. It is in this sense then, that Practical really does not give a shit about Theory, as is the case for many domains. The first regard of me is my own. I am the sum of what I say I am. I think therefore I am. I am me, before I am what I am addressed as, perceived as, looked upon as. I am flesh and skin with soul within.

A statement fit for a play of Shakespearean proportions (that narcissistic thing is a stain on my soul, I swear) if only it had the same effect on me as his own does to his audiences. In my case, I have foregone this realisation, and I have taken the Rag of Tabula Rasa, wiped myself clean to a polish so that others may imprint on me in ink over what I had scribbled in chalk until I was six. I have taken a shine, mirror-like, to be a humble reflection of what others see so that I may learn, from them, how to be me. How humble of me to let those others decide, how kind of them to take the role so graciously! Did they audition too?

And so I disappeared, spinning my cape and twirling my hat. End scene. Except the scene is played out, the film has ended, and I have my hands on the sequel that has been refused funding. The Enchantress has escaped to the woods, a withered old witch in lonely seclusion. For in abandoning the scene, I maintained her duty to my role and carefully read out the script. So really, in the end, The Disappearing was an illusion, a slight of hand. Nothing changed but my desire to keep up the act, keep up the mysterious Enchantress thing that I originally auditioned for. A cheap imitation of self-reinvention, that involved ruthlessly chasing an ascetic lifestyle as I realised the role as E. was empty as I felt it to be. Whilst of course, admitting that I was pretty shit at playing it.

I am here in my hut, the sequel, a blank page. I am waiting for someone to write it out for me in person, or for an agent of the Screenwriter to descend on my behalf. I had never until this point considered taking up the pen and I am scared to start. To stop imitating art as though it was life. To stop expecting from life as though it was art. There is no art to life? I am not the one to know, I never tried to find out. I write to find out, with my own pen.

Image courtesy of Magda Smolen.

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