I was surprised the first time I encountered hostility toward the use of the 2nd person. What’s not to like about the 2nd person? The 2nd person is you, my friend. The wonderful utility of the 2nd person is that it can be you, and you, or you. There is a certain ambiguity as to whom the you happens to be. Who is doing the you-ing? Use of the you is tantamount to conducting an interior dialogue, but from the outside rather than the inside. This is wizardry. This is like a talking oyster. You, my sweet friend, you are a talking oyster, a marvel of biology, an emotion in the wild, a philosophy crackling with accusation. You are an identity heretofore hidden by a shell but now you’re in the open. You’re a glob of shiny muscle. You’re a steaming pronoun of dreamlike convolution. You resemble a vagina. You perturb the usual restrictions of identity with dislocation. You you you. You dot, you knot, you goblet of brine.
The 2nd person always sounds a little angry, a little accusatory. As in “you get up and make breakfast and find the Cheerios are gone.” Or, “You move into traffic dreaming of life in a big hotel.” If, for example, you had said “I get up and make breakfast and find the Cheerios are gone,” the statement invites a little sympathy. Or if you say “I move into traffic dreaming of life in a big hotel,” this, too, sounds a little wistful and sad. But to say “you move into traffic dreaming of life in a big hotel,” it suddenly has the faint implication of guilt, as if you were putting everyone on the road at risk because of your selfish daydreaming when you’re supposed to be giving your full attention to driving.
Each time the pronoun ‘you’ is uttered you can feel the weight of the intonation. The lonely ‘ooooo’ of that rounded vowel is a jewel of emotional availability. The vowel is open and so is the identity. You is wonderful for talking about pain. “You’re in pain and you don’t know what to do.” This is not just you, this is everyone who has ever been in pain.
You enters narrative space in a potash of smoldered logic. You’re integral to the shattered voice of monologue. You’ve become universal. You’ve become a calamity that occurs to everyone.
You is the lusicious voice of metaphysics. You are an eyeball creaking on a kitchen floor. You’re a body. You’re buxom. You’re in a room full of fruit. Your nose is a personality beneath the two dots that pass for eyes. You’re a cartoon. You’re unreal. You’re real. You’re so real you’re unreal.
You in a bathing suit riding a rocket to Mars. You feel raw and beautiful. You feel spasmodically tolerant. You feel adhesive and secret. You feel that sincerity is underrated and so you give voice to the fragrance of insinuation. You have the longitude of consciousness and the latitude of a hemorrhaging wisecrack.
You can do anything. You can go anywhere. You say light and a light appears. You wiggle like a cup of freshly poured coffee. You yells mood to the imponderable moment of meaning in a chopstick grammar. You noodle you. You strudel you. You you you. What’s not to like about you?