mapping the space between us

cross-posted from The Decadence

One of the ideas I became interested in and want to explore in my novel-in-progress THE DECADENTS is, to paraphrase a character from one of my favorite novels of all time, WHAT I LOVED (Siri Husvedt):

“mapping the space between us, where one person ends and another person begins.”

This is the concept of personal boundaries, and when you’re fleshing out your characters it’s useful to think of how healthy — or not — their boundaries are.

If I have boundaries with holes in them (and most of us tend to in one way or another), I can’t contain my thoughts and feelings and subconscious fantasies. I project them onto you, hold you responsible for my feelings, or think I’m responsible for your feelings (or your actions or your life).

I don’t know where I end and you begin.

I mistake the stuff in my head for an objective reality that lies between us.

It’s why people who are emotionally manipulative — be they sociopaths or seducers or actors — know instinctively to maintain an ambiguity. They keep enough of a distance to become human screens on which the rest of us project our fantasies and emotion.

They become what we expect them to be.

What on some level we need them to be.

By withholding themselves they allow us the space to invent them.

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1 Comment

Filed under psychology for writers

One response to “mapping the space between us

  1. Justine, your blog postings have become a daily read for me, a writer myself, so thanks for it.

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