Tuesday, November 25, 2008

THE OUT-OF-MINDERS : a short introduction

There exist a group of people (never mind how many -- they themselves have no idea and anyway do not wish to be counted) devoted to being forgotten. To vanish, they believe, is the flower, the firework, of an ideal life. They aim to live entirely, to die and leave no residue, not on the earth or in the mind.

In the public imagination, the Out-of-Minders are known almost entirely for their pronounced aversion to trash. Their horror and aversion upon being offered, say, a plastic lid, may seem to us extreme. A styrofoam cup, a plastic spoon, a swizzle stick, is a stake driven deep in the thick hide of the future. To an Out-of-Minder, every object is in danger of becoming a monument.

Out-of-Minders regret the attention given to recent events at nuclear processing facilities at which Out-of-Minders, arrested for protesting, were unable to present government-recognized identification* and purported, furthermore, to have forgotten not only their Social Security Numbers, but also their names at birth. They are sorry for police headaches and hope the incidents will be swiftly forgotten.

To know the Out-of-Minders only for their attitudes toward trash and waste however, is like knowing Digambara Jains only for their face masks and fly whisks. Behind these beliefs is perhaps a complex philosophy of beliefs, motives or ideas -- though it is true that no Out-of-Minder will admit to this.

Out of Minders wish to disappear entirely after death -- and in the meantime keep a low profile. They eschew interviews, awards, accolades, titles. (There are rumors some Out-of-Minders pursue higher education and may even receive advanced degrees--but no Out-of-Minder can be found who will confess to doing so.) Seeking anonymity, Out-of-Minders use flimsy aliases, quickly switching from one to another lest they become known or, as they say, "solidified". There is nothing they fear so much as becoming important.

Refusing awards and burning certificates, Out-of-Minders do not wish to be given credit for anything. Not infrequently they are caught trying to pawn off their best achievements on others. An Out-of-Minder painter signed his work 'anonymous' -- until he became known for it -- and thereafter signed his paintings Bertrand Russell, Charlotte Web, or Miro.

The few Out-of-Minders who can be coaxed to speak give names so flimsy and generic they are hardly names at all -- Brian Williams, John Mack, Cate May** -- and insist, furthermore, that they do not speak in any way officially, but only for themselves. These Out-of-Minders emphasize their beliefs should not be mistaken for nihilism or an ideology of disconnection. Not seeking to "make their mark", not wishing to succeed, they focus instead on the cultivation of a small number of close personal friendships. They desire to be known, fully and idiosyncratically, by a small circle of people and for that knowledge to be obliterated upon the death of the last friend in their circle.

Research into the Out-of-Minder movement has proven uniquely frustrating. The Out-of-Minders delight in providing false or nonsensical information. Thus the highly embarrassing recent 'expose' in which were written statements such as "pineapples are routinely worshipped" or "auto-fellatio is that for which we earnestly strive". Used in their presence, the phrase 'Out-of-Minder Movement' may produce screams of hilarity, horror, or derision. Whole dissertations on the Out-of-Minders have been written and then have mysteriously disappeared, often with their authors, who had lost interest in receiving a PhD, or no longer had a name to pin it on. The few snippets which have been published are buried in magazines read by virtually no one.

The Out-of-Minders themselves, when intermittently located, refuse to give any indication of whether they now number in the tens of thousands, or if they are like members of a dying language, who aim to say a few more words amongst themselves and then fall silent forever.

In unguarded moments, the Out-of-Minders seem to find us, who seek names and accolades, as frustrating as we find them. Clearly it annoys them to explain, for the twentieth time, that, yes, they really do want to be entirely forgotten, and that losing everything is the best thing that could happen.

* Cereal box tops and soup labels were deemed unacceptable forms of I.D., even for a man named 'Turkey Noodle'.

* * A web search on these names produces absolutely no useful information whatsoever. All you learn is that Cate may or, then again, Cate might not.

(Madrid, 11.24.08)

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