Tuesday, May 28th–Apparently the State Legislature voted unanimously to give retired teachers their first cost of living increase in twelve goddamn years. If that cocksucker Rick Perry actually signs that into law (and knowing him, he may not), that might make things a wee bit less troublesome between me and […].
I had an earlier dream I’m posting below.
Later, I dreamt I went with my parents (or people who were supposed to be my parents) to some sort of appointment, probably with a doctor. My father seemed rather old.
We looked out the glass front door and plate glass windows of the waiting room and could see the ocean beating back and forth there in luscious black and white. I commented that it look as if photographer/director Bruce Weber had directed that.
When we were finally able to leave we walked out of the front door, and I noticed a stack of newspapers that someone had left on a wooden bench next to the rather tall plantings of flowers off to the right. The papers included “The New York Times” and two or three others, and they were brand new and largely unread.
Had they been left there intentionally? Was the owner planning to come back for them? Were they there for the enjoyment of the patients at that clinic? Could we take what we wanted?
As it was Thursday, I bent down to at least take a look at the “Times Home and Garden” section. Then my mother slipped up and grabbed a few sections and hurried off to the car. So I helped myself to whatever I saw of what was left that I wanted.
In the car I looked at the papers. There was an article about people coming to meet one of Babe Ruth’s daughters. The people in the accompanying photo moved. Babe Ruth’s daughter got up and hugged a woman’s neck. There was a similar article and photo about Queen Elizabeth II and her children.
I think we were supposed to go back to the clinic later. I was really in need of a shower. Should I grab one once we got home, or wait even longer until after the second appointment?…
I woke up about 2pm or so, very badly shaken by [a] dream…. I walked Belle, and got dragged into a too-early phone conversation with […]….
Me–I had a dream this morning that was sort of a spy/thriller story that involved a lot of dashing around from one European country to another.
What I eventually discovered was that evil multi-national corporations were buying up companies, firing or laying off the employees, and then seizing or kidnapping the people whose lives they’d ruined, and forcing them to perform degrading sex acts for an audience of the multi-nationals’s executives, at corporate retreats.
It was like “Salo: 120 Days of Sodom,” but for the corporate world.
And that should give you an idea about my attitude towards jobs and the working life.
A follower wrote: So go on and write some bestselling books about this!
Me–RE: That dream.
No, I’m not any good with fiction or making stories up, and frankly, the story didn’t interest me much.
And after that I had a nightmare so shattering that it’s really fucking up my day, which in itself is turning out very badly.
Follower–Man, I hope you’ll feel a bit better soon! Sorry in case you read my comment before and it found it rude (I don’t even know).
Me–Oh no no no no. It has nothing at all to do with you. Totally different deal.
Follower–Alright. I just thought I maybe annoy you the shit with another stupid comment on such an obviously bad day. So, still, there’s hopefully a better day ahead for you!
Well, so much for getting anything done today. I was in the middle of a phone call and suddenly had to hang up because I was about to start blubbering.
When the line dividing sleeping nightmares and a really horrific waking life begins to dissolve, that’s when the real trouble starts.
After crying for over an hour, I’m exhausted. Maybe a shower will help.
A follower wrote something to the effect, “Somehow I never thought of you as a ‘Brideshead Revisited’ fan.”
Me–I’ve been a Wauvian since before you were born.
Follower–Then I have never been more glad to stand corrected.
Me–Good Lord, I watched the Granada “Brideshead” back when they originally ran it on PBS in 1982. I’ve got the diaries, letters, essays, at least five biographies….And I live in the same town where Waugh’s library has settled for its eternal rest. Where did you get the idea I wasn’t a Wauvian? I’ve been obnoxiously Anglophilic since childhood, am a Catholic convert, am hard-of-hearing in one ear, foul-tempered, and used to smoke cigars. All I need is seven children and a publishing deal and I’d be set.
Follower–Well I can pray that you get at least one of the last to (your pick). I suppose I never noticed you as active in the BR fandom (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa). Whatever happened to the cigars?
Me–I smoked heavily for twenty years (cigars, unfiltered cigarettes, and pipes–the latter I had hand-made for me in New Orleans by an old gentleman who used to make pipes for Mr. Faulkner), and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I had the flu and pneumonia for five weeks, as well as a lung X-ray which scared the hell out of me. Though my lungs were spotless, the brush with mortality was enough to make me quit cold turkey.
Someone posted: “For each person there is a sentence—a series of words—which has the power to destroy them.”— Philip K. Dick
In my case there are several such sentences. And any day I expect to hear or read at least one of them, which makes life like living in a war zone.
I’m often afraid to check my answering machine or inbox because I’m so sure one of those sentences will be there.
The people I know I don’t want to know. The people I want to know don’t want to know me.
I’ve barely been awake eight hours and I’m already thinking about going to bed to escape how fucking miserable I am right now.
Wednesday, May 29th–I retired around 2am, and tossed and turned and cried until about 7:51am. The bed was too hot, and neither Belle nor I could get properly situated….
I got something to eat, and I had walked Belle prior to working on the message. I think it was close to 9am when I finally retired.
I dreamt I moved back in to New Guild Co-op. I got up early one day, got partially dressed, and walked around in the kitchen and downstairs area barefoot, something I’d never have done in real life. Yet I enjoyed it for some reason.
I dreamt I was involved in yet another dot-com, either as a contract worker or low-level employee. My friend […] was involved in some high capacity. I attended some get-together in a town that may’ve been Austin. All sorts of staffers and executives were there. A few I knew, but most I did not.
I headed over to the buffet against the wall, where there was a lot of guacamole. There were also green bags of stuff hanging from the wall. Was it food as well?
I was told that the upper-level execs had decided, as a nice gesture, to hide money in the food for the regular employees to find. I thought it would mostly be $20 bills, but apparently people were finding hundreds of dollars at a time. Naturally, though, I turned up nothing.
Then later–a few hours later or maybe the next day–there was to be another more informal gathering at the home I shared with my so-called “parents.” As I recall, the guest room was a mess. The execs all walked around, with fake, painted-on smiles on their faces, totally ignoring me. They had no idea who I was.
I really needed to take a shit, and for some reason couldn’t use the bathroom in our house. I darted out the front door, and nearby I saw a strip shopping center. I went over there, to a popular restaurant that was always crowded despite the fact it only served mediocre food.
The restaurant was surrounded by a porch crowded with tables, though at this time of day most of the tables were receiving direct sunlight. There was a toilet right there out in the open on the porch, and I dropped my pants and began to painfully move my bowels. I was annoyed to find that part of the top of the lid to the toilet tank was wet, and the single roll of toilet paper, which was sitting on that lid, was partially wet as well.
The toilet was very close to a small table where a young man was sitting alone. He had curly hair, a sort of 1970s style about him, and was squinting in the sun. He faked a smile that did not hide his anger and contempt towards me.
I was just about finished and just about to wipe my ass, when he threatened me, and said if, when I flushed, any water from the toilet or anything else got onto him, his plate, or his table, he’d beat my ass. I forget what I said, but I bunched up a large handful of toilet paper, wiped my ass with it, and then I think I very quickly stuck it in the general direction of his face before flushing and running off.
What then followed was an overhead, map view of sorts, with me quickly analyzing where, from that spot on the porch, I could go run and hide from this guy, whether or not the hiding place would be a good one, and how long it would take him to find me at each spot. Apparently I was going to be running from him for a very long time.
My last dream was from the point of view of an American soldier in Vietnam. The dream seemed to have been filmed through a fuzzy lens with a film or video camera. Everything was hand-held, herky-jerky, unfocused, and with a yellow tint.
We were marching in single-file through a dried-up woodland–a jungle I suppose, mostly looking from the ground up and into the woods, then back down. The squad leader was much older than the rest of us, was of Italian descent, and had a black moustache.
Someone stepped on a twig or something, and the squad leader said to the person responsible that he’d probably just tripped a VC land-mine. The other guy wasn’t happy about it, but seemed resigned to his fate, as we all were. But no mine went off.
We thought we sensed a VC patrol off in the distance, so we decided to go to our regional headquarters to report. Within a short time we were there. I was amazed to see the gate was wide open and guarded only by two sentries with rifles, standing at parade rest. I was given to understand that there was a gentleman’s agreement that the VC would respect our boundaries and not storm our headquarters.
The rest of the dream was devoted to our walking, still in single-file, through the headquarters compound, to go deliver our report.
We had someone escorting us. There were standing puddles of water on the asphalt streets, as if there’d recently been a rain. The compound was quite vast, with endless blocks of bland-looking buildings, mostly two-stories in height, built of yellow brick, with white doors and white wooden window frames.
We got to the back side of the complex, turned left, turned left again, and two of us slowed down as briefly as we dared so one could buy a canned Coke from a Coke machine. There were two anachronisms here: 1) In those days, the Cokes would’ve been bottled, and 2) they wouldn’t have cost 35 cents, as they did in this machine. We had trouble with the machine, which spat back the dime. Finally, it took the dime and delivered two Cokes. I got one, and my buddy got the other.
It was around 5pm or so when I woke up. As has been the case the last few days, I had trouble getting the computer to start up properly, and just had to reboot the whole fucking thing….
I’d also gotten up too late to call the SSA.
Thursday, May 30th–Wednesday flowed into Thursday.
Before bed I finally finished Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.”
When did I retire?
I dreamt I’d just started work at an alternative weekly in what appeared to be Austin, but the paper wasn’t the “Austin Chronicle.” I think my friend […] was the Editor-in-Chief. I was desperate to prove myself, but I was surrounded by young, ambitious, hipper-than-thou people–mostly music writers.
We had a staff meeting at night in the middle of Guadalupe Street, just north of 21st. Either traffic had been re-routed or it wasn’t an issue. Most of us were sitting on the ground, and I think most of the staffers were wearing black leather jackets.
There was a new employee who we had just been introduced to. He was the paper’s new star, apparently, and he was full of story ideas, and had known the one hip band de jour ten years before when he and the members were fresh out of high school.
Then either he or […] produced a caricature the lead singer of the band had drawn of himself, so we could see what he looked like. But it was just a stick figure in a black leather jacket, with a round baby face. I shrugged as if to say, “What fucking good is that?” I turned around to the staffers behind me to see if they sympathized, but they were ignoring me and listening to […] and the new staffer.
To further emphasize my point I said, “I had something like that happen to me before. We were told to look for a singer who was a white guy with brown hair, brown eyes, and wore a black leather jacket!” I shrugged again more aggressively. “Who the hell doesn’t look like that?!” But they continued to ignore me.
Then the new guy added to […], “Oh, by the way, when I was on the way over here from the Capitol I heard that (such-and-such country) just declared war on us.”
[…] said, “Well, I’ll see if we can get an article about that from Allen Ginsberg.”
I thought, “Allen Ginsberg? How the fuck are they gonna manage that? He’s been dead for over fifteen years. Does the paper have an arrangement with his estate? Did he leave behind a bunch of articles and editorials ranting about politics with blank spaces for us to fill in?”
[…] walked down the street towards St. Austin’s Church to make the Ginsberg call on his cell phone. I found myself down there, but separated from him by a metal wall of some kind. Was I standing in the deep bed of a very large truck, behind a shipping container, a temporary wall set up at a construction site, or what?
I took the call on my cell phone (I had a cell phone?!) and found my throat hurting, which made my voice raspy. […] turned into David Letterman. I began to talk in a rather stereotypical New York Jewish accent. I said, “David, I have a favor to ask.” “Dave” said that if it was for tickets to tonight’s show he couldn’t do anything because they were all sold out. (Really? He didn’t have the power to do that?)
I replied, “Well, actually, I was going to dun you for a little money,” but just then the audio kicked in and I realized the private call was now being broadcast live on Letterman’s show. He tried to cover the awkwardness of my comment by saying in his insincere, bright manner, “Hey everybody, it’s ’70’s liberal poet Allen Ginsberg!” Then, playing up a persona, I said, “Hello, David! Hello, everybody! Yes, this is Allen Ginsberg. How are you doing? HOOOOWWWWLLL! HOOOOWWWWLLL!”
The last part was so typical of a Letterman sketch, particularly from his old NBC show in the 1980s, and seemed like the sort of ham-fisted shtick someone who knew absolutely nothing about Ginsberg or “Howl” would try.
I got up around 1:30pm, after having gotten inadequate sleep, but knowing I should probably go ahead and get up and call the Social Security Administration. I walked Belle, ate, and called a little after 2:30pm.
I had a decent wait on the phone, but didn’t mind much. The guy on the phone asked for my last job, and I asked, “Last freelance job or last regular job?” I hope that won’t count against me. I forgot to ask about the psychiatric tests, but I guess I can bring those up at the beginning of my interview call on June 20th.
Afterwards I called DARS and left a message for my Case Worker to close my file and let me know when she’d done so. I’m sure I’ll have to contact her several times to get her to do it, though.
You know how you can go to a batting cage, rent a bunch of baseballs and hit them, or you can go to a driving range, rent a bucket of golf balls, and hit them? Well, I wish there was a place where you could go, rent people, and beat them with a baseball bat for a certain amount of time. That would be a great stress-reliever for me.
That unpleasant feeling that you would’ve done almost everything in your life differently if you’d only known that you could have.
For a few months in 2004 I attended a socialist student group. (I stopped going because they kept pestering me for donation money I didn’t have and wanted me to get up early and go sell copies of the “Socialist Worker” at farmer’s markets and such. I only stuck with it as long as I did because I enjoyed hanging around a new group of people who weren’t as annoying as my regular friends.)
Anyway, I even went to a few parties for this group. (This was before my social anxiety set in in a big way.) And at this one party, since I really didn’t have anything to say to most of the people, and since they didn’t bother to have any food put out, I took to staring at the items of decor in the house.
I became fixated on this one picture, and finally some gal came over to see what I found so interesting. I said, “Well, it’s a popular reproduction, probably from the 1920s or 1930s, and it’s clearly supposed to give the impression of Maxfield Parrish’s ‘Daybreak,’ though it’s not that picture at all. The people in it are different, they’re positioned in different places, the columns are missing…. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
She said, with more than a little sarcasm, “I bet you’re a big ‘Antiques Roadshow’ fan.”
“Yes, but the British version more than the American one. There’s a higher quality of merchandise on the British show, and the stuff’s older.”
A little later I learned that the gal I’d talked to lived in that house and was hosting the party.
Moral: Socialism and antiques don’t mix.
Friday, May 31st–Thursday moved on into Friday.
I did a lot of reading in bed, starting D. H. Lawrence’s “Twilight in Italy” (which I’m already not liking), Virginia Woolf’s “On Being Ill” and “Jacob’s Room,” continuing in Dirk Bogarde’s “An Orderly Man,” and reading the short “Arthur’s Austin ABC” by Will Howard in one sitting.
I retired after 9:30am.
I forget what I dreamt about.
I got up around 8:28pm.
Wow, Belle has really gotten skittish around people. I wonder if she’s picking up signals from me because of my social anxiety.
I time my showers so as to steal all the hot water from my neighbors when they shower.
For all the use I give my telephone I might as well have the damned thing disconnected.
I would be very surprised if I make more than six phone calls per month.
I always keep my phone’s ringer off, my answering machine (remember those?) on, and the answering machine volume turned all the way off so I don’t ever have to be bothered with calls.
(After decades, my family still refuses to believe I do this, and gets angry when they call and get the machine.)
I don’t own a cell. I bought a cheap “throw-down” cell to take to LA for a wedding a few years ago, so I could call cabs, but I never got the hang of it and rarely used it for anything except checking the time.
So if I actually call, speak to, or communicate with you in any way you should feel honored, because there aren’t that many people on earth I care to talk to.
Oh God, here comes June, which means the start of at least 90 solid days of temperatures in the 100s here in Texas.
I wish I could escape this place. I hate hot weather. I hate summer. It’s such an ordeal to live through this shit every year. Nine months of blazing hot weather!
[…] and I talked. He’s staying at the Hotel Galvez in Galveston, a hotel I’ve always wanted to stay in. After my shower and coffee I edited another article for him. Later, I watched “Hannibal.”
Saturday, June 1st–Friday flowed into Saturday….
I read more in Bogarde and retired in mid-afternoon.
I forget what I dreamt. I got up around 9pm.
I really think people who make or listen to crappy music have something biologically and mentally wrong with them.
I was walking Belle and somebody stopped by the apartment office to drop his rent check in the slot. He left his car door open and the car stereo was blaring the most insistently annoying music. I don’t know how anyone could listen to stuff like that without being turned into a glassy-eyed moron.
I’m suffering from museum withdrawal.
My favorite local museums won’t have all their new exhibitions in place until the end of the month, and I’m anxious to go back and explore and look and take photos. I suppose I could go and take even more pictures of the permanent collections….
Sunday, June 2nd–Saturday flowed into Sunday.
I worked on another article for […] and walked Belle in the hot, humid night air.
I was such a foppish young gentleman when I was a college freshman that when I learned I would be required to take two P.E. courses I signed up for fencing and marksmanship.
I wasn’t a very good fencer, but I still fondly remember the day I executed a successful disengage movement that actually knocked my opponent’s foil from his hand, sent it flying ten or fifteen feet, and caused everyone in the room to stop and stare at me in awe.
God, I used to be magnificent! What the hell happened?
I had an odd discussion tonight with a friend about food.
For years I think he has regarded me as silly and pretentious for being a foodie. He doesn’t understand why anyone would appreciate food as an end to itself when he regards it as mere fuel.
He claims to have a more refined palate than mine, despite the fact that I used to be a restaurant critic and a food writer. No one’s ever paid him for his opinions about food. His favorite local restaurants are a generic Tex-Mex chain and the Mr. Gatti’s pizza buffets.
Anyway, he asked that if he took me out to an upscale, expensive restaurant, would I consider breaking veg and becoming a carnivore for just one night.
I was broadsided. I explained that my choice was based on a question of ethics. Many of my favorite dishes from the past had contained meat, but I didn’t stop eating meat because I could no longer afford to eat expensive meat dishes or visit posh restaurants.
I went veg when I realized how illogical it was to claim I loved animals and cared for their rights and well-being while at the same time being a party to their torture and death.
He said he had hoped that was my reason, and claimed, yet again, that he respected my choices. Yet he still continues to tease me and give me grief about not eating meat, and complain how the fact that I “can’t eat anywhere” limits our restaurant choices when we go out to eat.
This is the same friend who, when I told him years ago I was considering going veg, exclaimed, “You must hate God!,” insisting that the Bible practically commands meat-eating.
[To a friend.]
Random Thoughts and Babblings on “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.”
(Feel free to read or ignore this, as you will, since it’s very long and rambling. The transitions from topic to topic are disconcertingly abrupt.)
As I’ve said, I’d never heard of this book prior to you mentioning it. I had no idea Rilke had ever written a novel.
This was not an easy read. I was always having to flip forward to the end notes or back in the text to ascertain what person or place Brigge was talking about. I would’ve preferred to have footnotes or marginal notes, as well as a dramatis personae, a family tree, and a chronology.
I’d have gotten completely lost without the notes. I failed to realize Brigge was discussing Beethoven in that one passage until I saw it in the notes.
Though I know “Maman” is French for “Mama,” for some reason I got convinced that “Maman” was Brigge’s grandmother, so after I realized it was in fact his mother I had to go back and re-read her sections.
I got the various gloomy Danish manor houses confused.
And Abelone–she was Brigge’s aunt as well as his sweetheart–albeit a platonic one?
And I still have no clue as to who the hell Ingeborg was.
I was also expecting the book to be completely set in Paris rather than mostly in Denmark, because at least I’m fairly familiar with where everything is in Paris. (When Brigge got lost after going to that hospital for electro-shock treatment I squealed, because I got lost in that same neighborhood a century later, and had pretty much the same reaction that he did.)
I read the book rather slowly, partly because I was munching on such candy-like turns-of-phrase as “murmurous orchard,” and was jotting down words and lines on bookmarks.
The structure reminded me, oddly enough, of “Naked Lunch” and, to a lesser degree, “On The Road,” in that all three books are so episodic and impressionistic, you can pick one up, open it at any point, read a section, and come away with a dreamy picture, but no clear idea as to what the whole book is about. Indeed, it reminded me of a dream diary.
Now none of these criticisms should give you the idea that I didn’t like the book. It was frustrating at times, but rewarding. And I can’t remember the last time I had such a strange relationship with a text.
It’s reminds me of that song “I’m Hans Christian Andersen” from that old Danny Kaye film. It included these lines:
“…Now here’s a tale of a simple fool,
just glance at a page or two
You laugh ‘Ha Ha’ but you blush a bit
For you realize while you’re reading it
That it’s also reading you….”
I definitely got that feeling when I was reading this book.
The scene where Brigge is pacing around that hospital waiting room, surrounded by filthy, freakish people, mirrored exactly my feelings and experiences in public health facilities. And like him, I have occasionally dressed up when I’ve visited such places, so as to hide my poverty.
I, too, know what it’s like to become obsessed with annoying neighbors.
And then there was this line: “For the lonely, they invented museums.” (Sigh.)
I am very badly near-sighted and wear bi-focals, but they don’t work very well, so often I read books by taking my glasses off and holding the book right up next to my face. (I think Aldous Huxley had to do this as well.) As a result of this, I noticed that the cheap paper upon which the book was printed smelled strongly of burning wood and spent sulfur matches.
This kept setting off a chain of sense-memories which included those of my adoptive father’s repeated threats during my childhood to burn my library, and the 2004 apartment fire that almost achieved what he had failed to do.
Brigge’s description of his disappointing childhood birthday parties reminded me of the time I turned nine and I was to have my one and only childhood birthday party.
My mother made up invitations, and I industriously hand-delivered them to some of my classmates. She spent the night before the party wrapping presents, preparing all sorts of good things to eat, double-checking the games, and hanging decorations.
We were up early the next day–a Saturday–making last-minute adjustments. Fifteen minutes before the party was to start we went outside and stood on the sunny front lawn.
And no one showed up.
We waited…fifteen minutes…thirty minutes….
We stood there holding hands–a recently-divorced thirty-year-old woman and her frighteningly precocious, if peculiar and friendless son. We looked west, across the street to blocks of vacant lots, with pasture land beyond. I wonder what she thought that day, if she realized that her son was doomed to go through the rest of his life like this.
At some point we gave up waiting and went inside and sat down in the breakfast room. Then my mother looked at a spare invitation and realized she’d put the wrong date on it. The guests weren’t supposed to come until the following week!
Our spirits were picked up somewhat. At school two days later I told the story of our silly mix-up, and reminded my guests of when the actual date for my party was. But on the following Saturday only two guests appeared.
One was a prissy little boy named Jon, who had a blonde page-boy haircut. I liked him, but he didn’t like me at all, and only came because his mother had forced him to do so, since she and my mother had been friends in high school.
My other guest was the closest thing I had to a friend at the time, a pudgy boy named Randy Newman, whose dad owned the local Dairy Queen. He lived a couple of blocks away and we generally got along, except for the time I was in line behind him at school, and the 3pm bell rang and he wouldn’t move forward or stop blocking the classroom doorway, so I bent down and bit him hard on the back of the leg.
But back to the book.
The section where Brigge sees the remains of the interior of the demolished house also reminded me of something from my childhood.
From age two to nine I lived west of Houston in Katy, Texas.
Nowadays Katy is a bedroom community filled with sprawling subdivisions and enormous schools, but in those days it was a sleepy, sun-baked, obscure little town surrounded by flat prairies, pasture lands, and rice paddies. I weirded adults out because I thought the tall, white rice elevators looked like the towers of ancient Ninevah.
At least once a week we drove into Houston, where my parents or grandparents would buy me a new book or toy. Much of the land on the south side of the highway featured fences, barns, and stables painted emerald green. This was the ranch of Glenn McCarthy, the flamboyant oil man, builder of the Shamrock Hotel, sometime poker buddy of my future adoptive father, and the inspiration for the character of “Jett Rink” in “Giant.”
But also on that side of the road was an abandoned cube-shaped, hip-roofed, two-story farm house in the “four-square” style popular at the turn-of-the-century. I seem to recall that the house was painted mustard yellow with green trim. The front faced north.
The odd thing about this house was that the northwest corner of the second floor and part of the roof above it were missing, probably torn off in a tornado, and you could see right into one of the old bedrooms, which was stripped of furniture but still retained its ugly wallpaper.
Now I wasn’t exactly scared by this sight, but there was still something unsettling about it. I felt as if I was seeing something that was supposed to have been kept a secret, and that there was something dirty and offensive about this particular crack into time.
Once in awhile I’ll remember this house (I forgot about it completely for at least twenty years) and ask someone who lived in Katy in those days, such as my mother, to see what they can tell me about the place, but they have no memory of it whatsoever.
Though I love the past and history and old things, there are certain old objects that have always filled me with a visceral revulsion. I will not touch the netting along the back of the signatures which remains on an old book after the spine has been ripped off. I will not handle the family tin-types, especially the backs of them, which are smeared with an unknown black substance, without wearing gloves. I refused to touch the interior or exterior of a Victorian trunk that belonged to one of my grandfathers, bearing in mind the story that the ancient Egyptians used to blow anthrax dust into the crevices of their tombs to fend off grave robbers.
Why do I have such aversions, such germaphobic complexes? The armchair Freudian would probably say it’s the molested child’s obsession with filth and contamination, and that’s certainly accurate to a degree, but beyond that I think it might be a horror of disturbing things which were put in specific, ordered, proper places back in the past, and by all rights should’ve remained in those places, undisturbed, not tampered with, but because of some unholy, improper, and fundamentally wrong happening, those things which should have remained hidden and untouched for the remainder of time are now spread open to the eyes and pawing hands of contemporary man.
When Brigge wrote about the taste of applesauce and how he was fed it when he was ill as a child I really lost it. When I’d get sick in childhood I’d take up residence on the couch in the den and watch old movies about knights in armor while my grandmother would make me up a tray of applesauce, cottage cheese, and grape juice.
Unexpectedly coming across this passage in the book touched some deep memories and I began sobbing in a very loud, primal way. I don’t think I even cried when my grandmother died when I was twelve, but being reminded of my grandmother’s love for me just really upset me. I was so out of it that I even prayed to my grandmother, begging her that if she could hear me or had any power to do anything, that she try to stop […] from psychologically and verbally abusing me. It’s embarrassing to admit all this, but I was really caught off-guard.
The concluding section on the Prodigal Son is to my mind a true tour de force. Rilke’s whole reputation could stand on just those few pages.
I may have to re-read this book in a few years, or see if the UT Libraries have any scholarly studies about it.
Thanks for introducing me to it.
I got up around 10:30pm.
Monday, June 3rd–Sunday flowed into Monday.
I sent a message to J__ K__ in Istanbul, where they are currently having anti-government riots–
Me–Are ya’ll safe/okay?
JLK–Thanks for your concern. Things are pretty much normal in the neighborhood where I live which is a good 5-10 miles or so from the city center. You probably know more about what is happening in Taksim and the rest of Turkey than I do. If it were not for social media, I would know nothing of the events as incredibly the news channels are pretty much ignoring this story. That the pussies in the news organizations don’t have the balls to report is not helping. Really it is those “haves” with good jobs not wanting to upend the status quo. This place is extremely caste system orientated. I’m sure there are many understanding folks who want to show this, but I am willing to bet they feel they somehow “earned” their positions. In a way, I sympathize with them in that why should they have to take the risk, but that is too bad they got into the news business. Also, the government is incredibly repressive by U.S. standards which, I believe, is the root of this entire problem. I still like to tell the story of my surprise upon first coming to Turkey in 2009 that the site youtube was blocked (unblocked about a year later) because (I don’t know if this is true, but I find it funny) there was a video of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (their George Washington) acting gay. The government doesn’t think twice about pulling stunts like that, but yet they want to be respected. Oh yeah, Ataturk was a booze loving secularist which the current government hates. Hypocrisy at its finest that they would pretend outrage at his being portrayed in a negative (homsexual is VERY negative in their minds) light.
How are things in your neck of the woods?
Me–Glad ya’ll are okay. Yeah, social media here is covering it, but the mainstream news less so. I think it’s trending on Twitter.
I know about Ataturk’s major status over there. He was certainly a snappy dresser.
My friends went to Italy in April/May. They’re still talking about going back in the fall with me, but we’ll see.
I spent most of 2012 taking computer courses either in classes or at home, racking up new skills and updating old ones, but several career counselors said I seemed to have a lot of problems (I agreed–I’ve developed some pretty severe social anxiety, bi-polar, etc.), & they directed me to a state agency that’s supposed to help disabled people find work.
They evaluated me for six months & long story short concluded that I was unemployable in my current condition, & suggested I get on disability (which is tricky to do) so I could get on Medicaid & get better psychological & psychiatric care than what the city & county gave me (which was lousy). If everything goes perfectly without the slightest complications I’ll probably have to do a few years of therapy & then see if I can find any sort of decent career afterwards.
So I’m busy trying to apply for disability, …reading a lot, & hanging with my dog. And trying to avoid the heat.