Let’s suppose you are a serious person, or you transmit to yourself certain conventional signals of a sort of seriousness: you reread Tacitus, you attempt to reread Proust but it can’t be done, you listen to Bartók and to Archie Shepp.
Also: You can’t stop moving your bowels, or your body can’t. You have a body, you are a body. You don’t know what’s safe to eat these days, or when. You’re so sick that you take off your clothes when you use the bathroom, for safety’s sake. That was a hard lesson to learn. Let’s stop saying you.
I had a body. It was a problem. It hurt most of the time. I dreamt of one world and woke into another. I woke in pain from bad dreams of my divorce, again, and listened to Wayne Shorter’s The All Seeing Eye. It would see a lot of things, that eye. Think of all it might come to know and desire to forget.
My throat hurt, my stomach hurt, I coughed, I lay in bed and stared at the ceiling and thought about death: I heard its soft footfalls approaching. I had some blood tests, I took some medicine. I spent a lot of time in bed.
At the time I’m telling you about, I was earning some money, not much, as a freelance journalist and a teacher in a university, writing about education, about gun control, about fashion or music, reviewing new novels through a haze of rage and envy, telling myself that whatever it takes means whatever it takes, doing whatever I had to do to convince myself that I was not a number-two schmuck.
The wife tells her husband: You must be the number-two schmuck in the whole world.
Why can’t I be the number-one schmuck? he says.
But how could you be number one? she says. You’re such a schmuck.
There was nothing the matter with me that was not also the matter with everyone else. I was not as interesting as I thought I was. My major problem, inadequate or inappropriate love from my parents, was as common as dirt. And one rainy day, all the boring poignancy of these realizations detonated in me like an atom bomb, burning the dead shadow of each former torment or preoccupation onto solid rock. Those silhouettes, that record would remain: the museum where I used to be.
All right, I thought, I’ve had enough. Some other way from now on, but not like that, not any more.
J. D. Daniels — Letter from Majorca
One of the few people I miss, truly, from Cambridge. Coffeeshop conversations about India, about Wittgenstein, about spirals and plateaus of realization and defeat. And now he’s being published in the Best American Essays 2013. I feel ecstatic and charged.
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Sebald!!! So meandering. Read Open City by Teju Cole next.
family photo albums, little euan, little john, little kuniko
brooklyn so far
It now lately sometimes seemed like a kind of black miracle to me that people could actually care deeply about a subject or pursuit, and could go on caring this way for years on end. Could dedicate their entire lives to it. It seemed admirable and at the same time pathetic. We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe. God or Satan, politics or grammar, topology or philately- the object seemed incidental to this will to give oneself away, utterly. To games or needles, to some other person. Something pathetic about it. A flight-from in the form of a plunging-into. Flight from exactly what? These rooms blandly filled with excrement and meat? To what purpose? This was why they started us here so young: to give ourselves away before the age when the questions why and to what grow real beaks and claws. It was kind, in a way. Modern German is better equipped for combining gerundives and prepositions than is its mongrel cousin. The original sense of addiction involved being bound over, dedicated, either legally or spiritually. To devote one’s life, plunge in. I had researched this. Stice had asked whether I believed in ghosts. It’s always seemed a little preposterous that Hamlet, for all his paralyzing doubt about everything, never once doubts the reality of the ghost. Never questions whether his own madness might not in fact be unfeigned. Stice had promised something boggling to look at. That is, whether Hamlet might be only feigning feigning.DFW, from Infinite Jest