Observations on Nothing in Particular

At a certain age, yelling is not loud. It's a nonvolume. Not at all certain that these sounds reach anyone. Not even certain that the sounds are sounds, but uncertainty implies thinking.

If painted pearl, cars can reflect so much sunlight that they're very difficult to see, except insofaras the points at which they blind you are abundantly apparent. If you're moving, or these cars are moving, their self-dazzlement is a reminder of their changing location. Parked, looking at them is as mesmerizing as it is painful: very mildly.

  1. 1. When a robin doesn't fly away when approached, it's an audacious little bastard. This is thought.
  2. 2. The erotics of wildlife are awfully familiar. A shy animal is exciting, a bold one is lewd. Another thought.
  3. 3. (1) and (2) don't make much of a story. Not much of a thought.
  4. 4. Someone who can narrate their thoughts without being defensive or boring, and without trying too hard to entertain, deserves awe.
  5. 5. (4) sounds a lot like the ideal animal, doesn't it?
  6. 6. (5) is defensive.

Teeth itch, but can't be scratched.

There's little difference between staring idly at browser tabs, and staring idly at objects in a room. The latter, however, makes better cinema.

It's not surprising that someone whose job is to plan off-campus activities for students is not at all cognizant of the structural problems in their efforts to create belonging. Nonetheless, when such a person states that their policy is "I just tell 'em to get out there!," it's depressing.

Anyone who isn't an idiot doesn't think of the historical past as merely that foolish time before we understood what we do now, yet it is an almost universally accepted way of thinking about oneself.

Charm is impossible to trust, like Deloware, and charm is impossible to ruffle, like Deloware.

There may not be different kinds of objects. To a young goat, everything is a potential platform, however precarious. To a goat in heat, everything is sex. To the insufferable, everything is encouragement.

If everything is insufferable, everything is sufferable, even pleasant. Well, only if everything were perfect.

24 April 2013

Same Old Story

Some cultivated accents of varying distance across the Atlantic. I dragged a thermos of tea to every class. I've repeated this several times, so feel free to tune me out. In addition to the tea, I made a point of being very tuned in, even if (or because) certain teachers in elementary school thought that looking out the window meant I wasn't. Drinking tea in class seems like an ostentatious distraction, but it's a beverage of alertness, something imagined to bring about clarity. I did imagine. I was drinking it to bring the world into focus, and with it the teacher's instruction, confirming my general teacher's petness. Conspicuously, I do not recall ever drinking it to wake myself up during Geometry, whose whirring projector, dim lights, and instructor all lulled me just shy enough of sleep not to draw attention to myself.

The tea, though, was of a particular character I was obsessed with then, but today I would call overbrewed. It had no milk, yet often, it was just the sort of tea that cries out for milk, like an infant does, by being unbearable. But unbearable, too, can be bearable. Assam was made to take milk, but that doesn't mean its wanton manipulations stop after it gets it. It wouldn't be so pleasurable to drown its unpleasantness if tannic intimations did not remain underneath all that soothing milk.

Such tea is its own drowning, taken in small sips as if it were something stronger, drying out the mouth, seeming to close off the oriface entirely, even if liquid continues going down it. In any case, while tea flows the rest is slowed. (Which is a funny bit of selective attention, really, because when tea dries you out, it's because you're pissing every five minutes.) Intake slows to a sumptuous constipation (meanwhile, the bowels liquidate). It may still be possible, however, to regurgitate if asked. The flavor does tend to give that sense. However, as I've said far too many times, it gives way to sweetness, what at first tastes like soap.

There's nothing so posessive as negation, and here I am after all these years, continuing claim this counteringestive gesture. Carrying a bottle of tea around high school was a way of putting a seal (pun intended) on my terror and hatred of the place, but it was also something exuberant, a way of bringing elsewhere with me. Of course, you could argue exuberance has no need for all this holding--neither absence in nor presence away. But never mind that thing that others seem to, for lack of a better word, have. I have tea.

One could also argue--and some have--that people get repetitive and boring--as I keep accusing myself of--precisely because of this melancholic retentiveness. But what exactly lies beyond attachment but more attachment? That, I suppose, is their point: One ought to forget that one is repeating oneself. Change is less substantive than it is imagined or recounted. But don't think of it that way. The point is to tell an entertaining story. Something fresh, something new. So that those listening feel fresh and new. It's a kind of juice bar, out there. Everyone's dying to see something squeezed that'll get them trimmer.

9 April 2013

Seoul Bound for Eternal Damnation?

Sometimes, I wake up to find that listening to All Things Considered causes nearby people to act as if I just yelled "the end is near!" (They glance over with a frightened expression, cross the street, and grab hold of their wallets.) Generally, I have a hard time paying attention--pleasant ambient noise, reassuring me that things are happening in the world, and that people are talking about them. But not today. Maybe my standards are lower than, for instance, the "rising pressure to increase gas taxes"? The news casters all sounded so deeply bored with the world on which they were reporting that the only communicative act left to them that seemed to broadcast out of their cocoons of despair were puns, and only because puns are the treadmills of locution. I thought I heard Robert Siegel trying to contain his glee at having actually uttered "the hard freeze following the Arab Spring."

I have to say, I shared this enthusiasm. The alternative quickly availed itself when someone earnestly observed that the Diaz-Canel government is launching "what appears to be a carefully orchestrated campaign to ready the island for an uncertain post-Castro future." It's almost as if there are politics that occur outside of the United States.

Generally, if they do, they're threatening and serious, threats taken seriously. They threatened. I'm serious. If you're sick of me repeating myself, I assure you, it's a cycle of transgression. The word "bellicose" was repeated so many times during this hour that I wasn't sure what it meant anymore, if anything. Whatever it was, nobody approved. Others stumbled over words I assume because they too could not get the image of a younger--very serious--Harrison Ford out of there head whenever they started to say "clear," "present," and, no, don't say that one, er, "threat," oh what the hell--"danger." Truly, language was a prickly morass, so uncertain that some took to stating as unequivocally as possible what they take and continue to take at face value. I was witnessing a kind of cold war escalation of rhetoric. Words were not to be trusted and had to be armored with more words, and those were not enough, and some sort explosion loomed on the horizon, or so they seemed to be saying, possibly.

4 April 2013


"Usually temperature was a battle," but every once in a while one gets smug. One finds "the particular ecstacy in greeting" the perfect temperature. Then again, is it the knowledge that one is in perfect temperature--the posession of which is smugness--that gives such ecstacy, or the lost time of not knowing, of not being aware of temperature at all? Irina is witnessing--always, happily, worryingly, a bit too late--the dissolution of both consciousness and control. It's perfect and it's a bit frightening.

The same could be said of food. I'm constantly wondering if I've eaten enough to stave off hunger hours later, and this worrying feels a great deal like hunger, if it isn't in fact the feeling itself. I say hours, but I think of it as forever. The point of eating becomes to create an infinite duration of not worrying about eating. Perfection is quite a load to burden eating with, making it something to worry about, and such heavy expectations tend to make the act itself awfully light, hardly noticable.

Once in a while, though, I'm overcome (or rather, I just barely perceive that something is barely perceptable) with smugness. Too exhausted to worry about eating, the hours in retrospect seem not to have been counted. I did not interpret the restless gnawing an hour after a large meal as hunger, as I tend to.

Of course, I have to say that when I was thinking "I'm not hungry" with an air of accomplishment, I was sitting down to a snack. This was not a contradiction, in part because the snack was inedible. Yet I was eating it. Are samosas gross, or were these gross samosas? Old, greasy pastry thick with dry chickpea mash. Their disgustingness was more comforting than off-putting, though. I only felt compelled to eat them out of a pointless, neurotic aversion to waste. But the fact that they were nasty was so--what? Undemanding? Time did not expand or "stop"; it was already more than one could ever need. It was inconceivable that it ever wouldn't.

Which is why I missed reading Lionel Shriver, I think. We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Post-Birthday World are different in form, but they share a pervasive distaste. It's like the astringency of tea at the back of the throat, absolving one's mouth from consuming food. It's not that Shriver's irritable characters don't swallow, so to speak, but things come back up and don't go down easily. The nausea is an oddly permeable prophylactic.

Irina's discovery of her lack of appetite for a better temperature comes when she's getting what she wants, even if she didn't know she wanted it. My moment of equanimity seems at first not to involve such crisscrossing of appetites, but then, I had given up on the day being useful or productive in any way, and not as a decision. Irina gave up on her non-marriage of nine years, and, indeed, the whole lifestyle that surrounds it, without intending to. Reading her "go wobbly" with slice after slice of chocolate-cappucino cake from Tesco, brandy, "a secret packet of cigarettes" and blasting Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes is an unattainable wish-fulfillment, not because any of these things sound particularly pleasurable themselves, but because she has so much rigidity--"trout and broccoli"--to make a mess of.

My attempts to impose rigidity on my life (no, I'm not saying I'm free; I'm saying I'm lazy) can only be endured with constant snacking, or rather, constant worrying. Otherwise, the thread of the next thing and the next thing is lost, and I suddenly realize how exhausting it all is. The drain seems to have come to the same realization; it has stopped draining. The stagnant water festers. But finally--finally--it has stopped stoppping-draining-stopping-draining. No more gurgling in the middle of the night.

1 April 2013