Invisible Omniscience and a Return to Calm

I’ve been complaining to Josh and a couple of friends about my grief groupie for a few weeks now but more about just the aggravation involved in deleting a barrage of emails from my inbox than any real awareness that it might be harassment. I assume she means well. The next few weeks will be the test I suppose. Will she disappear, or will the attempts to get my attention escalate? I stopped responding quite a while ago, but noticed last week that two “thinking of you” e-cards had made their way into my spam box. On my blog, I deleted a few comments I thought were really inappropriate, but within minutes they were reposted. I considered blocking her but I checked into it and it’s an unsurmountable problem because we connect to the internet using the same networks, and the addresses are always renewing. I could end up blocking myself. I can of course block her emails but at this point I want to know if she’s trying to pursue me.

But this post isn’t supposed to just be a continuing rant about her. It’s that, I didn’t even realize how profoundly she was affecting me until yesterday. I wanted to post a vague rant about my desire to end a long day with a margarita, but I thought, “Oh wait, she’s totally going to misunderstand that and will fill my inbox with warnings about FAS.” Then I thought I would post about how hopeful me looked at bassinets at a used baby stuff store the other day, and I got nervous that she’d start “shopping around” for me herself. And the next thing I knew, Josh simply asked why I was quiet and I started crying that I feel as if I’m living in a panopticon. As in a Benthamite one.


In the Benthamite prison – very few of which were ever built – the prison cells are arranged around a central observation deck or point. Observers, guards, can see them, but the prisoners themselves cannot tell if they are being observed. It seems that, in choosing to be so public with my grief, I put myself in a virtual panopticon. I didn’t mind, being observed in my grief. Not by strangers, anyway. Or by any reader or friend that’s at least willing to acknowledge that s/he is out there. The others, however, have made me feel that they’ve turned my grief into a spectacle.


3 responses to “Invisible Omniscience and a Return to Calm

  1. Not exactly on topic, but I remember you used the word panoptican once before and, having never heard it before, I looked it up and was fascinated and horrified by the very creepy concept.

  2. Did I really? I didn’t remember. Not surprising, it’s one of those concepts in early modern history that just doesn’t leave you.

  3. Oh, what a creepy feeling! I do hope she leaves you alone. In college I spent a semester at Cambridge University, where the history library was built like a panopticon: the person sitting at the circulation desk can see right down all the aisles. I never felt comfortable studying there!

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