Not Nobody, Not Nohow! You Can Tell It to the Bog —

The ENSO, the symbol for Zen in Japanese, means nothing. Not meaningless, no. Its meaning is NOTHING. Null. A void. Emptiness.

You’ve seen the Enso here before, in Just Who Do You Think You are Anyway?

Well, who are you, anyway? Are you, you know, Somebody? In our celebrity-mad culture, all that matters is our name to be heard and our face to be seen. Context is meaningless: good, bad, fame, notoriety, no difference. Andy Warhol nailed it: “In the Future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Andy was right. Turn on your television set any time, 24/7. All kinds of people asserting their Somebody-ness, no matter how, or for what. Or to whom.

There’s somebody, though, who didn’t buy it in her lifetime and surely wouldn’t buy it now. Here’s what she wrote about it:

I’m Nobody! Who are you?

Are you – Nobody – too?

Then there’s a pair of us!

Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!

How public – like a Frog –

To tell one’s name – the lifelong June –

To an admiring Bog!

Already in Emily Dickinson’s day, in the Civil War era, the celebrity virus was rampant. But Emily went out of her way to be seen by no one except the most intimate of family. Well, I daresay she carried things to an extreme. But so do we; and maybe there’s health in paying attention to her counter-cultural view. Do we dare to be Nobody? At least we could avoid standing in a bog, kissing a whole lot of frogs!

Meet the Somebodies!

This entry was posted in Etcetera, Personal Essay, Wisdom, Zen and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Not Nobody, Not Nohow! You Can Tell It to the Bog —

  1. Stef says:

    Hmm… I’d assert that any blogger with a public listing does, at some level, desire to be Somebody. Perhaps not to the degree of celebrity, and perhaps in the context of meaningful connection; but still, I state the desire is there. At least, I know it is for me. (For better or worse, that’s my current truth – subject to change, as always.) 🙂



    • Touch2Touch says:

      Well, and so do we all! I know I do — so much so, that a weighting on the other side, asking the question — what is fame really all about? What am I really striving for? is salutary for me, who have always wanted what I might call “mindless” fame.
      See, you qualify the Somebody “in the context of meaningful connection”. That’s not only legitimate, not only human, but actually a VALUABLE striving. That benefits so many people.

      Goodness, there are a lot of issues involved in this for me, though!
      As someone who’s had a certain amount of “fame” at various times, I know that what counts is one’s own self-definition, because all that “public” fame never added up to anything lasting or meaningful for me. My own self-definition remained as small and insecure as it ever had been. The “itch” never could be adequately scratched.

      Hmmm, what it all shows: we write for ourselves, to find out what we think!

      (Stef, no question about it. You are assuredly Somebody — not because you say so, though. Because your blogs shine with your person.)


  2. pauline says:

    I don’t mind being Somebody, as long as Nobody knows about it.


  3. David Elpern says:

    I think Emily D. was satisfied to be “nobody.” She recognized that privacy trumped notoriety. It gave her the luxury to be creative and perhaps, that was enough for her. In this, she differed from most of us. There are probably more E.D.’s out there — content with themselves, not desiring the 5 to 15 minutes of fame. I appreciated your pairing of the calligraphy (was it Hakuin?) with her poetry. Her soul is definitely Japanese — of course, that’s just part of it.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Yes, emphatically — Emily chose “Nobody” as the better portion.
      I can’t read the calligraphy and don’t know if it was Hakuin — just that it’s beautiful. It never occurred to me that E.D.’s soul might be Japanese (among other things). I wonder — a new thought to think, for which — thank you!


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