In the gallery the young woman is having a crisis: “I don’t feel as if I can make new aquisitions, because I am not sure where I will be.” What challenges our interiority is our ability to graft on the new: I mean, when it is frustrated we are forced to recognize that I have an interiority at all. “If I were to have kids, it would only be because I want to pass on my book collection…” In that future that mark of authority will either be desperate and urgent or totally redundant. To imagine the canon as a mark of taste. To believe that a personality could be fashioned by great literature. Like you, like Gower, I believe that too, which is why we got along. But in the moment I am consumed by the emptiness which I treat like the limbs of an apple tree.
I’ve built a very small home. Looking out from where I’m standing… I don’t see much on the horizon. My shoulders and knees are bruised, my neck bent at a painful angle. When I get home I evaporate. I try to look at myself in the mirror. A friend asks: “I saw you post all of those tweets. Are you alright?” I say, “I was scraping something off.” When I board the train I decide to read the book again. I get most of the way through the first chapter before tears start coming on.
A book as a technology of the self. A mood to write out of: when you feel as if you have to pull yourself out of the water. “I was reaching so far down, scrambling to get my hands under his arms.” The lyric is a technology—it allows us to distinguish ourselves from the outside world. Perhaps I shouldn’t say allows.
If I have been avoiding anything it is anything that could aggressively consitute an expression of my own interiority. They say he was never the same.
Read about love. Read about characters moving through the world like trains careening through turns… Motivated by love of self, love of the other, desire to become what they are not. “I wanted to know her because she was outside myself.” (Of Sophie Calle.) What is the self but a collection of things we have come to know. “The self is disturbed through feeling for another—eros is the melter of limbs.” (Anne Carson.)
What is desired is always outside the self. Desire seeks to close the gap between the inside and outside. This gap cannot be bridged except imaginatively. Only what is ultimate can reach outside our being. We desire what we want to be—to desire is to assemble a self paradoxically through our lack. It is the lot of human beings to be faced with the irritation of unending desire, to exist apart from the world and from other human beings, no matter how close we imagine ourselves…
December 18, 2017
It’s awful outside
And I feel slow every afternoon
Like something thick is running through my bloodstream
A kind of paste
Is pouring through me
Outside the fog descends
Smoke rises off rooftops
A truck backs up, cars pass,
The slush, a blinking light
It is time for you to accept your shadow. What is the shadow but something to wrestle with, like Jacob did, in the early morning? Your shadow is a part of you that you hold apart. Frequently I think of the opening of The Making of Americans: Stein’s “father” who calls out to the young man, his son, who is dragging him through the orchard: “Stop! Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this point!” Was it the man’s shadow which caused him to pull his father after him or merely learned habit? A shadow is something like a hunger. It is more than habit. A shadow operates on you from a place of unknowing. It cannot be interrogated directly. But you can come to understand it, and in the morning it gives you a new name that represents your trial. Do not hold your shadow as something apart, because it is as fundamental as what is seen.
Some kind of trauma. Something I can’t accept. I look in every direction and see no one or no thing. I am exiled on a remote island. I am in a grove of trees. When my lord left me I tried to follow after him. But I was detained through secret plotting. A hidden crime, a deceitful face. Now this plotting is working its way through me. I am not a living being.