Friday, May 4, 2012

When


When you finish a book you have enjoyed beyond your ability to measure its effect on you, you want there to be a sequel.  If there is not one available or one cannot be, you spend magical moments inventing it, for the moment becoming the universe, then telling yourself you did it for the good of the universe.  You knew it was more selfish; it was for your sanity.

When you finish writing a story, you try to imagine it having a similar effect on someone as the effect it had on you.  Yes, this does mean you were trying to impress someone, a lover, a would-be lover, a dean, an editor, a complete stranger, perhaps someone from your past life who told you the kinds of things you did not want to hear, not as a friend would tell you but as an unkind or jealous person would tell you.

When you realize this, you already understand you could have done better.  Accordingly, you do another revision, removing all the obvious showoff and enhancing the kinds that hold genuine fear for you.  This is in case the individual you wanted to see the material in fact does see it.  You have, at last, let her see you naked and afraid.  What pleasure you feel, knowing you owned up to your show off, then countered it with presenting yourself naked and afraid.

 When someone you’ve loved and worked with on a number of projects dies with an uncompleted work remaining, expected by a publisher, you get some sense of the need for creating the landscape necessary to finish.  It will be easy in the sense of you having spent hours talking about the overall narrative arc, sharing emails, hand-patting the project into place, but it will be difficult because you were so different in your approach to work.  You will imagine him interrupting you from time to time, drawing your attention back to a place where he felt some speed bump you’d long since bounced over, scarcely aware you’d banged your head on the ceiling.  You don’t have much faith in “the other side” or afterwards, leaving you to the replay of moments at work or at meals or at some unrelated point where you connected about something, which is the thing you do with ghosts, after all.

You do your best to make things last, yourself included.  This is often a difficult thing to remember.  There are many things you have invented because you did not like the way the real version turned out.  You have done this enough times to cause you to laugh at yourself for thinking to edit Reality, but such is the way of persons of your inclinations, including bank robbers who, in their way, are concocting scenarios in which they are successful in making from their efforts what you’ve made from yours.

At one time, for a brief period, you’d thought this through to the point of glorifying journalism as being the result of the most objectivity of which a person is capable.  You have grown away from that, although you have not lost your respect for journalism.  The crux of the matter is the awareness of having no head for such philosophical dialectic as it pertains to what is and what is not objectivity, when and where the line into opinion is crossed.  You reek of opinion, your narrative voice as though redolent of garlic.

When you presume to put aside opinion, you are in the final analysis, putting aside a number of facets of the self but by no means all of them.  You have as many opinions as a dog in the summer has fleas.  These opinions cause you to itch metaphorically and actually, so driven is your cranky presence in the world or your exuberant, bouncy self, showing off for whatever crowd lingers nearby.

You often find it comforting to have no idea what can happen next to the point of having to invent a reality from your boredom.  There were at least three times in your life you can remember when you could have died in some process, these in addition to the times of which you remain completely unaware.

You first saw death up close as an eight-year-old, when a girl who’d been swimming in a river drowned and the paramedics were unable to revive her.  You’ve played tag with it ever since.  Although death has in a metaphorical sense robbed you of friends, family, beloved pets, you’ve not made it a metaphorical enemy, rather a process, something that can happen at any time to you or anyone about you.  Death about you is a reminder you are alive.  Death reminds you to buy flowers for yourself.  Death reminds you to do what you live to do, to not settle for urn coffee or plonk wine or Budweiser or Stella beer.  Death always reminds you that fresh clams are better on linguini than canned Progresso clams, that spaghetti with broccolini or rappini and a few Kalamata olives is better than some bottled or canned sauce, that the twenty-five-year-old balsamic vinegar you buy at Il Faustino is better than the mass-produced stuff at Von’s market.

Every time you listen to Coltrane or Bill Evans or Mozart or Ravel may be the last and so you try your best to listen with care, absorb it, feel it cause your inner sensors to resonate.

If you do not resonate, even with sleep or boredom, you might as well be dead because you have taken leave from your processes.  If you do not write, you are left with lame excuses for not writing instead of the egregious lies, fantasies, and absurd misstatements of reality you might make, which you call story, which, after all, has a greater probability of causing you to inner resonance than death, which is all about, waiting, waiting for pizzas to dry, weeds to sag, trash cans to tip over, jokes to fail, love to stop happening, stories to cease.  


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