Losing the Sympathetic Reader.
How to Love Inordinate Life Inordinately)
instagrammed an uncharacteristically brief manifesto a couple of days ago to a
dear friend (which he’d have to be to put up with these periodic spews of mine)
— brief, anyway, compared to the proto-exegeses that more habitually seep out of
me like untoward body fluids — and while none of it will be news to anybody who
knows me, I do think it “noses like a stoat before it drinks the blood” (line
in a DH Lawrence poem I’ve always loved) closer to Quentin Crisp’s admonitory
suggestion to “say what you’ve come to say”.
so — stoat-nosing the following squib as I now do to the length if not the
status of exegesis with this unnecessary prologue, I affix a joined pic of me
musing on the memory of Messrs Lawrence and Crisp’s written & spoken words
just for the quasi manifesto/exegesis helluvit — knowing that this ‘paper’
might have with unwarranted luck earned a grudging D minus from Pardon
Tillinghast, much-lauded history prof (sadly now deceased) at Middlebury College
who for many decades intellectually funded and sustained the national
reputation of that department — whose very name had the ineluctable rightness
which invested his rules for and standards of governing diction and argument.
of which I’ve herein left egregiously unheeded but without which — pardon me if
you can, Pardon — I have rashly proceeded anyway. Thank you for the generous
grade I’ve had the temerity outrageously to imagine you munificently might have
granted this gaffe of unfounded assertion -- by which gaffe perhaps I may at
least lend credence to the unquestioned merits of your Alert that most
historians’ speculations are not to be trusted — although, had out of drollery
you felt impelled to accord its unholy business deftness of any sort, your
reaction readily may well have been to concede my having transmogrified the act
of expressing thought into a long unbroken steam of farting. It would in that
spirit and from that very word have earned a redolently fetid F.
I’d have told the world stood for fabulous. A perquisite I employ because
you’re dead and I’m not and I can. Which means I’ve invoked you as a ploy the
baldly manipulative intent of which may lose me many sympathetic readers. So
please to pardon me, Pardon, I didn’t mean a word of this. My apologies to any
readers I have offended.
to those sweaty bands of miscreants who remain I confide: I just this moment
realized this unbeautiful beginning may have gained it genuinely deft entry to
what it just now allowed me to grasp is the point in what follows. Here it is
in its bulkiest and (I think appropriately) most tedious form: that the attempt
to investigate (in the hope cathectically or empirically to heal from
understanding) historical sources of one’s behavior (the engine that runs most
if not all psychotherapy) may more readily lead to madness than cure it.
Professor Tillinghast is hereby exonerated from having any but an expedient
fictive role I forced him to play here in igniting my audacity to say what I
believed that moment would make my claims gut-level memorable: an ancient
advertising shtick employed and exploited by everyone from Shakespeare to the
putative (and therefore actual) current leader of Our Gang to any of those
persons who lied when they said they loved you, or to you who lied when you
said you loved them.
with the far from dissimilar sorts of transgressive triggers that enable
orgasm, thinking is not safe and life brims with danger. Which is why dichotomy
and ambivalence are such a blast. Whatever peace we know passeth understanding.
Is that peace a lie? Presumably not if you feel it.
you just read may be the bad-ish cop to the good-er cop coming up, I don’t
know. But I’m all but certain both cops love life (when they don’t weary of it)
exactly for being inordinate.
I suspect when they love it, they love it inordinately.
Here’s my quasi-manifesto, sent to my shamanistic
friend Patrick Ryan in Tokyo, albeit much added-to. A long unbroken lump of
prose. But I couldn’t think where to start a new paragraph.
These sources of unrest are probably most of them forever out of
reach – we feel like we can name some of them, and we probably can but even
those we only partially know. I think the main reason I’ve turned away from
psychoanalytic inquiry is that it seemed to me to lead to madness, not to
beckon us out of it. The madness of thinking the more we knew about our past
the freer we’d be. Such a reasonable-sounding promise – which to me turned out
to be nonsense. It’s not that certain memories are not illuminating or useful.
If they are, take a nice look at them and welcome the info. But do not, I would
suggest, extrapolate a whole of theory of being from them which explains all.
We like to do that because it gives us the brief illusion we can “know
it all.” (And who knows, maybe we can, I sure haven’t seen evidence of it yet.)
Every ideology or religion, when it thrives, thrives because it makes an irresistible
case for agreeability. (Even when, maybe especially when, fire and brimstone are
part of the recipe.) And a lot of this is genuinely eye-opening. As with
memories that illuminate, gather ye rosebuds of illumination whene’er and where’er
you can. I love “The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” It’s generally
meant as a kind of trope for Christ but it signifies the experience of anything
or anyone being incarnate: every human being and every good poem and every
stirring stretch of lovemaking and anguished grief and above all helpless
laughter. The more we pay attention to who, what and where we are (I won’t even
say “now” because that implies time, of which, as you’ll see, I take a dim view)
– not abstractly but in the flesh – the more we become what we do, be
one with it – not try to become what we think (an impossibility: you can’t be
an abstraction – the word must be made flesh, and how that happens is a mystery
I don’t believe anyone has plumbed, though if you have, write me immediately would
you?) – the more we follow the spirit and letter of that, the more fully we’ll
know we’re alive. It’s all happening in your skin and your tongue and your
breath and your nose and your ears and eyes, and yes, your feelings and
memories and speculations and sexual fantasies and terrors – in whatever hurts
or feels good, in whatever excites or bores or saddens or leaves you
dimensionally in a sense of not-knowing or un-knowing (especially that
feeling, for me). Notice I don’t say “live in the moment.” That’s a ghastly
admonition. It tells you there’s such a thing as a moment, which means it
sneakily implies that you have to believe in measured time, since when most of
us hear the word (“wait a moment, would you?”) that’s what we think of. There
is no time, there’s only infinity and eternity. We need not look any further “for
something” than what we’re already looking at. Therein lies the mystery, I
suspect, of word being made flesh – and dwelling among us. The great cosmic
hilarity is that we do that all the time and don’t have a clue about it. All of
this describes to me what I may just as well (and so do) call “happiness”.