When the morning came we found the huts torn and streets rent. The others said nothing—they would not even turn towards me—but it was clear from their silence what they thought. We crossed the bridge in the afternoon, our packs heavy with salvage. We had found no bodies. No women, children, men. No cries or whispers or gruntings. No blood or bone or organ. No hair or nail, no gut, no flesh, no casings. But their things—what wasn’t upturned, spilled, or wrecked—we wrapped and put into our bags. Beneath the bridge the smell of bleach, cords and tires, twisted rods, bent axles, ripped canopies, and the black and bubbling muck. The trees wore fungal bloom, fuchsia, olive, wet, the tips of each papilla white and swollen. With darkness we set up on the road, laying our weary bodies on our packs. We were afraid to touch all else. A fire: dead stalks that had fallen from the trunks, leaves and weeds that we kicked up from the floor, the odd branch. A nervous hum as we scraped to the bottoms of our cans. And, finally, night. For the others to wait until I ceased stirring, until my eyes closed and breathing steadied, until the rot and bleach and wreckage were overcome by blot, by sleep.
“The pleasure of the sentence is to a high degree cultural. The artifact created by rhetors, grammarians, linguists, teachers, writers, parents—this artifact is mimicked in a more or less ludic manner; we are playing with an exceptional object, whose paradox has been articulated by linguistics: immutably structured and yet infinitely renewable: something like chess.
“Unless for some perverts the sentence is a body?”
She’s waiting on the other side of the door, we’re waiting on our side of the door. We’re patient, because the car’s here now, and there’s nothing else to do but wait. The subway runs through its chimes: a sound to announce its arrival, a sound to announce that it’s about to leave. But the door doesn’t open, even though we’ve been waiting so patiently. Inside the train, the woman bangs on the plexiglass, to let the subway know that she’s waiting. But the car misinterprets: it thinks she means giddyup, like a cowboy patting the shanks of someone else’s horse. When the next car comes, we’re all a little nervous. Will the doors open, or won’t they? Are doors meant to open? Doesn’t our patience mean something? Does it mean anything?
Maybe this is just an indication of my headspace right now, my current tendency to search for the abject and erotic in everything (or whatever), but I think Young Marble Giants’s 1980 release of Colossal Youth is the most seductive album I’ve ever listened to. I realized this just moments ago, waiting through the few seconds of agonizing silence on the album’s first track, Searching for Mr Right, and again as the first beats pick-up and linger what seems like an eternity for Alison Statton’s vocals. Brand – New – Life, the second last song on the album, is Colossal Youth’s abject heart, a plaintive (but sultry) confession of loneliness. Careful. You might fall in love.
It was not my first instinct, and yet I said it anyway. Why had I done that? Afterwards I stared at the screen, head throbbing. I wanted to go to bed. I went to bed. I had run that day and thought my legs would hurt in the morning. In five hours I woke up, an indication of how little sleep I’ve been getting, feeling not quite refreshed, not quite tired. The hour that I spent with them means my legs should hurt. They don’t hurt. I’m not tired or refreshed. I feel nothing. Today I have no body.
Opened the The Book of Disquiet at random and found this passage (in a section I had not read). Intention was to post it as a little encouragement during a time I am doing what can only be termed “a lot of bad writing” (the end of semester). But my main man Pessoa really knows how to make unwanted work even more depressing, and I can hardly think of one of my essays (of the kind I am writing now) as a positive distraction for anyone, (already) sorrowful or not (soon to be).
Knowing that work will never be finished is bad. Worse, nevertheless, is never-done work. The work that we do, at least, is left done. It may be poor, but it exists, like the miserable plant in the only pot my crippled neighbour has. The plant is her joy—sometimes it’s mine as well. What I write, and recognize to be bad, can also supply a few moments of distraction from worse things to one or another sorrowful or sad spirit. It’s enough for me, or it’s not enough, but in some way it’s useful, and that’s the way my whole life is.