An Admission of Need

December 20, 2021
Can’t Help Myself, by Sun Yuan & Peng Yu

When I first heard about "Can't Help Myself", by Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, I thought it was about need. A machine (person) who keeps on needing, trying to grasp the unattainable, for no reason at all. But that's how art criticism works when you're young. You're not quite worldly yet, so you see everything through the lens of your own personal context. Nobody can really say how long it persists. It takes a silly, almost shameful level of self-obsession to look at such a deliberate work of art (which certainly has a message greater than one's self) and to say: I think this is about me.

(But is there anything wrong with that?) (You could say universality is the aim of all art.)

Recently, I've been thinking about detachment (as in asceticism) and avarice. They don't exist parallel to eachother, but rather, directly above and below. underneath the veil of detachment lies an ardent need. It's scary. It's like a monster. You don't want it to get too big, or it'll destroy the fortress of self-preservation & reliance you've painstakingly crafted. To re-attach yourself to the outside world would be like opening the floodgates. You don't really want to need, either; to need means to resign yourself to the push-and-pull, the reciprocal, natural duty you have in relationships. You don't want anyone to expect anything of you. You can't fulfill it. So you curl into yourself, into a trench of self-obsession; that's avarice.

(You speak in 2nd person because you don't really want to claim ownership of what you're thinking.)

The 'avarice' of the 5 is about 'holding back' and 'holding in'. It is a fearful grasping, in the belief that letting go would cause catastrophe. The 5 'hoards' emotions, energy, resources, and self, out of a fear and experience of impending impoverishment. [...] Their inner polarity is between pathological detachment and holding on. The 5 hides their neediness behind a stoic veil of indifference, resignation, and renunciation. They are detached, withdrawn, and obsessive. (src.)

I think that inherently, I'm an obsessive person. Whenever I lose someone, I fall deep into the realm of obsessiveness. Not with people, but with myself; with building myself up after that loss, to somehow remake myself around the absence. I've been reading, creating, I feel empty otherwise. No, I still feel empty. you know you can't replace love with something else.

(I'm sorry for acting like I was okay with losing you.)

So I'm telling you that I need it - love. And forgiveness and softness and that I'm sorry it's so dreadful being friends with me & I really do love you. And I'm not just saying it. I've realized my self-concept is largely defined by others. If I act unexpectedly, it feels - fake. Uncanny. Disjointed. Does this make any sense at all? I feel like I'm lying. Even if I'm not. So I'm saying it here, I'm writing out my love inbetween these lines. Like an annotation.