Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Writing

Day 102

If you get the chance to see The Worst Person In The World, go to see it. M, A, and I went to see it yesterday evening, and I thought it was wonderful. In essence, it’s a coming of age film, but centred on a thirty-year-old woman rather than on a 16-year-old kid. And it’s essentially plotless, just like life, just like that plotless novel I’ve always dreamed of writing. And there is an unlimited number of plotless novels that have yet to be written. When we left the cinema, A said that too many people focus on plot; you don’t really need a plot, just follow the people. There; that’s the plan. The film is also a reflection on the human condition from any number of angles and viewpoints.

The thing is that we probably never come of age. How many of us continually say we want more, but we don’t actually know what more is? I say it to myself at least once a day, and I still don’t have an answer. A lot of people call this white middle-class angst, and that’s not inaccurate. We have time and privilege enough to be able to be plagued by this sense of not having found our place, of not having found a sense of self, we have the luxury of being able to ponder the meaning of life rather than having to fight to stay alive, the luxury of striving for some illusory fulfilment rather than wondering where the next mouthful of food or milliwatt hour of heat is coming from. That doesn’t negate this drive for constant change and improvement, though, this quest for the one thing which we think will change our world (and maybe others’) and make us happier. I’m not going to dive off into a whole philosophical debate about what happiness really is here; let’s just say happiness can’t be the ultimate goal because a constant state of happiness can’t exist.

That’s where we reach the flip side of the coin of forever striving. Is it the root of depression, this constantly wanting more than we have (not materially, although it can stretch into that, too, I suppose, when we wander along streets of mansions and experience the Tonio Kröger syndrome of wanting to be in those rooms but never being able to be, never being able to be a part of the elite we think is happier than us, luckier than us)? Is it the root of our anxiety that we experience the physical and mental effects of? That disrupts the rhythm and functioning of our bodies, that inhibits the way our mind works, that manifests in an imbalance of chemicals? It’s constantly there. If not the whole reason, it’s one reason of many for poor mental health. And there’s no single cure, no simple cure.

I woke with a story in my head, a story in one sentence, and came downstairs with an unknown but familiar song in my head along with the words that would make up that one-sentence story. It’s been eclipsed by real life. I’m listening to music that’s not the song that was dancing around in my head. It’s the story of every morning. And it was accompanied by the lilt of Norwegian, that language I still miss, that place I still miss, although, when we left there 16 years ago, it was not a kind place, rife with xenophobia and intolerance. From the frying pan into the fire.

One of the characters in The Worst Person In The World says “Mine was an age without internet and mobile phones.” I miss that world.




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  1. Ren Powell

    12th April 2022 at 08:42

    Has it been 16 years?
    You’re right. Not a kind place. Not a warm place. But I suppose that teaches us something – or leaves us both wondering what it was it was supposed to teach us to give us that “more”. ?

    1. Richard Pierce

      12th April 2022 at 09:17

      Al, generalisations are of course, false. Norway did teach me a few things – that I could have meaningful friendships with men, not just women; that I could still learn quickly. I don’t think the children would have become auto-didacts without the Norwegian experience; they learned an independence there that I don’t think they would have learned in the UK. And it was a valuable experience to be an immigrant, albeit a white middle class one, because even that was a horrendous experience of prejudice, and a joyous experience of meeting immigrants of all ethnicities at my language classes and being part of multicultural friendships and aspirations. I think the problem (probably for both of us) is that we’ll be exiles wherever we are. <3

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