Tuesday, May 29, 2018

"As one great furnace flamed"

I've never had such contradictory feelings about expressing myself before. I used to take a determined pride in it, knowing that it was right, no matter if there were wrongs generously mixed in. Taking a break from writing here has caused me to realize (more so than before) that writing contains a deeply therapeutic component. It can, I should say. That recognition felt has caused me to not want it to be about that, though. With everything there emerges some new ambivalence with which to tussle. I'm not sure if I can be the one to stop it. It's as if I'm past the zenith of an acid trip and I find myself babbling a series of confused truths, but can not find a way within myself to stop, to shut off the stream of consciousness.  To silence the newly freed hobgoblins. 

My head has been filled with noisy garbage since I stopped writing. All of the nonsense that piles itself up in the washrooms of my mind normally finds its way out here, for good or ill. My bike rides have been constipated realizations that I depend on being able to arrange the world in such a way that my response to it will seem superior to its own predicament. At its best it's a persuasive trick of rhetorical writing. But I know it's what I'm doing, so it doesn't have much power over me. After I've won the arguments in my head I know that I am no better for it.

At its worst it is a middle-aged man railing against the perceived faults of the present, my heart filling with fears of and for the future. So much for therapy. 

I miss documenting the mundane occurrences of my life, though. Without some sense of reflection on my own experience then all of life blends together and becomes dull, even rote. Living life isn't dull, reflecting upon it from a distance makes it seem so. Everything melds together to become less than tale-worthy. Writing in the present is an attempt to control the past. Photography, an attempt to preserve its specific form. My current life is rich with experience, though it is oftenest of the domestic kind - comical in its ubiquity. There are times that playing with my son in a pool or at the park can seem like a miracle of grace and beauty, honey dropping from the heavens, though viewed from a distance it might only seem to be a mildly pleasant mirage. There is little difference between flying a kite and seeing a kite flying.

I've stopped posting these to Facebook. That was a part of my problem, I believe. Whether you want it to, or believe it to be, it is just a lame seeking of validation. My best pieces are ignored, or so I felt. The pieces that received the most encouragement were when I was expressing the dullest and most pedestrian thoughts.

I began reading two new books this weekend. The first, a collection of short stories by Gerald Murnane. I should maybe not reveal this here, because what I thought of most when reading this story was that I wished to try and imitate his style. I had not yet finished reading the first story in the collection when I ordered a copy of the book for CS. Such was my strong, and perhaps premature, impression of what the writer was doing. I felt the way that one does when they discover something new and of great quality - an intellectual excitement, a secret that requires some effort to share.

I remember feeling similarly about Henry Miller long ago, when I first read Tropic of Cancer, so there will always be some inherent limitation to feelings.

There are people in my life that can not stand it when I suggest that feelings are not the most important and vital part of being a human. Some claim that it is the only thing that matters. I offer to leave them alone with a child for a year and see if they still feel that feelings are the dominant attribute of happy humanity, and if so, why do we all try to correct the presumably errant feelings of others. There is no end to the mysticism of emotion.

The other book was Snow Country by Kawabata. It is a novel told in the style of a haiku, through the contrasting of images and events. It is one of those books that can be read a single page at a time, over long periods, as an invitation to a recurring dream. Events are shrouded in apparitions of time, they can not be touched. There is a sensation when reading the book that the author is telling you one of your own forgotten dreams.

It's what I do now - try to read good books. Life is short, there is so much of it that has already faded. Images that become overexposed by time, an attic of disinterested ghosts.

My life has become moderate through circumstance only. It feels sustainable now, where it used to stumble with an passionately marked uncertainty. People worried about my instability but did little to encourage stability. Excesses of all kinds were encouraged until they became unending folly. It is a dangerous place to be for one who never wanted to be anything more than the best class clown that he could be. They do not offer degrees in advanced clownism. The job market eschews the independently irreverent, no matter what they may claim. People expect you to be a very good dad first, a funny dad third or later in the list, if at all. People will suffer an entertaining and impudent youth, though they become vague when ever pressed to define the moment at which such youth should end.

Everybody seems to have children for the wrong reasons, if they have any at all. Filled with a lifetime of irrational expectations, for themselves and of their progeny, they stumble towards an imaginary horizon, far beyond the goal posts where no scores are ever tabulated, none recorded. The answer to the question of why we do it is equal in emptiness to why others do not. 

Why is it so difficult to assemble those things that really matter in life and to dwell among them only? I am referring to certain landscapes, persons, beasts, books, rooms, meteorological conditions, fruits. 

- James Salter

That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed:
Such place eternal justice had prepared
For those rebellious, here their prison ordained
In utter darkness, and their portion set
As far removed from God and light of heaven
As from the center thrice to th'utmost pole.

- Milton, Paradise Lost