Sunday, January 9, 2011

In Search of Lost Time

    Because the stem of your watch was extended during one of the moments you probed the pockets of your denim jeans, looking for your keys or a pocket knife, or perhaps even for pocket change, time came to a halt for you.  This was no H.G. Wells time-machine extravaganza in which time became frozen, rather it was the illusion of time having conveniently moved slower than its normal wont.  You were led to believe it was ten or twelve after six when all the while, it had been ten or twelve past six two hours ago--two hours and growing.

Even though you understand full well the mechanics of what happened, down to the possible moment when the glitch took place (you were changing from a pair of cords into a pair of tattered denims, thinking to toss the cords into the wash for tomorrow), you nevertheless feel cheated of the time you thought you had.  This brings you round the loop of logic to the fact of enjoying moments such as these, however they are filled with tension.  You are moving from one venue to another, which involves logistics, trips, where to put things, which things to toss or give away, which things to transport now.  You are involved in preparing a list of projects you'd like to piggy-back onto the publishing agreement now in its final stages, all the details having been worked out to the mutual satisfaction (and optimism) of, as they say in contract jargon, both parties, i.e. that entity referred to hereinafter as Author and that entity who shall be referred to hereafter as Publisher.  No time for modesty here:  you're saying in as many words, take your choice among these three, a complete revision of a book (Secrets of Successful Fiction Writing) you wrote in 1991, an audacious bid to write volume two of Studies in Classic American Literature, volume one of which, written in 1923, argued (persuasively, you thought) that America was still looking to England for its literary heroes), written by D. H. Lawrence.  You'd chose fourteen modern (mostly living) authors to go up against the fourteen in Lawrence's work, your major point being that the tables are rather turned in two ways, England and Europe are looking to the U.S., while the U.S. is looking in some measure to its Asian and Latino imports.  The last project, has long intrigued you; its title comes from a review Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about a convention of nineteenth century crackpots, eccentrics, and loonies all of whom, you argue, had for all their madness, much more stature than our own pack of crazies.  The particular Emerson locution you so admire is "Mad Men,Mad Women, Men with Beards."  You would attach a subtitle to help make the point that everything seems better in the past, but in this case, our own historic nutcases, such as Sylvester Graham, "inventor" of the graham cracker, win the race hands down.

Each of the three require a certain edge you feel you have grown into, having yourself spent so much time on the edge, where ease, leisure, and unfettered expanses of time seem so abstract in comparison to the realities that obtain.  

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