November 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
In this depression—lighter, but lingering—I’m producing poems so fast I feel embarrassed. Is it loss when the muse descends, dropping her petticoat over my head? I remind myself that others get paid for their work, and it doesn’t mean they enjoyed medical school. To turn unhappiness into art—or an art-identical substance—is better than many solutions, and if not as healthy as, say, running around the block 75 times, it has the advantage of not requiring me to get out of bed.
But that’s no advantage at all! You need air and others’ voices! You need someone to knock some sense into you! But as soon as I write that, I’m thinking of a boxing ring and the glistening sweat on a bare chest tapering to a manly waist, those tiny shorts…float like a butterfly, sting like a bee…
No sexual fantasies, please. It’s winter.
Anyway the ratio of pain to poetry is extremely lopsided, and to keep the poems fresh the emotion has to be fresh, you can’t use last week’s warmed-over anguish. And going back and looking at the best thing I wrote in the summer, feeling as much authorial pride as I’m capable of feeling, still doesn’t remove the queasy horror at the idea of actually remembering August. Forgive and forget, they say. It works better when you forget first.
But forgetting—really forgetting, not just numbing— frightens me. It aways has. Add that to the weirdness of what seems like a very similar but essentially different human being… I understand that he is, in himself, to himself, a consistent being, but to me the break is not only heartbreak. It’s a reality break. It’s a minor version of what I felt when I first encountered death in the family. At that moment—I was nine—I thought that all the laws of the world as I knew them might be false. The sheets on my parents’ bed could reach up and strangle me. The furniture was sentient and glittering with malice.
The past 11 years are suddenly different and my brain’s having trouble with the story. You know your brain changes your memories to fit in new facts—so that reality has a shape you can comprehend—you know that, don’t you? Sometimes, it just gets stuck. There’s a standoff between the old and the new.
That I hang on stubbornly to anything I want is a given. But now, in addition, I’m suspicious of whoever—whatever—changes my memories when I stop paying attention. It’s happened before, and the more I read about the brain, the more it reveals itself to me, kind of like this: Hey, Stupid, here’s a tidied patch, something gone. Kaput. I pruned it. You don’t like that? Sue me.
I know what comes next in my life (what appears to be coming next), and it’s good. Yet I want to remain in the transitional state. Dusk. Night’s coming but if you run fast enough, you can get back to afternoon. Dawn. Sky’s lightening, but you can close the shutters, make the darkness last all day.
–Aren’t you sick of that then?
–Why should I be?
–Everyone else is.
–That used to matter more.
Remember No Exit, Sartre’s play about the voices in my head? No, it was about something else, wasn’t it…“L’enfer, c’est les autres.” Well yeah. That too.
There ought to be a TV series set in Hell. The trio of stars has ended up there by mistake because at the moment the 4th, not-so-good guy died, they were all holding hands. (Why? I don’t know; get some writers.) So they’ve got a beef, and there’s lots of curious company, and the Devil’s played by Angela Lansbury and Charlie Sheen’s her asshole son, who keeps whining how come nobody likes him, he’s supposed to be an asshole, and he’s married to Penelope Cruz who used to be Persephone before the Christians took over and she hates him and is always setting him on fire or freezing him into a gigantic block of ice. Of course there will be an episode when she manages to eject him onto our plane of existence, which gets her in a lot of trouble with God, who looks uncannily like the Devil. The comic style will be halfway between Ingmar Bergman and Monty Python. Oh, I’m giving too much away.