The sun at my back, I watch my silhouette slide over the sidewalk, head and shoulders and two swinging arms and think that’s it, that’s ultimately what life is, what being is, the ephemerality of it all, we’re only shadows after all. I’ll leave some books behind that I authored, no kids, just the books, so hopefully a few bookstores and libraries will continue into the future.
What’s real is the sky. That lush blue summer sky. Air and air and air thinning and thinning all the way into space.
Sometimes it gives me a sense of peace to think of myself ploughing a broad field in North Dakota, way up north by the Manitoba border, I’m riding a tractor with a sound system, listening to a Brahms symphony or Shakespeare, Hamlet brooding in his Danish castle, wondering whether to continue living, wanting out of it, oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew, or that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world! And how strange to be hearing and mulling that in a tractor grumbling over Dakota topsoil. Because some of those tractors have fantastic sound systems, one can make furrows for wheat in a John Deere pulling a disk harrow comfy in a cab with Bluetooth, CD player, MP3 and Weatherband. Heidy ho heidy heidy ho.
Every time I sit down in a chair I feel the weight of my body find immediate relief, bones and muscles all going thank you, thank you for sitting down. Hard to imagine all this biology gone. And me with it. Whatever me turns out to be. What is me? What is I? What is subjectivity?
Scientists say subjectivity may have begun with insects. Brain scans of insects indicate that they have the capacity to be conscious, that they have something like subjective experience. It’s there in the midbrain, the ancient core of the brain, where memory and perception are mingled, stewed, digested, mulled and woven into a sense of the external world, flowers and dirt and hills and sky, neural simulations of being in space, moving through space, representations of reality from a subjective point of view, subjective being Latin for “brought under,” thrown out into the world under a dome of thought, perception, navigating the problems of the world, predators and prey, hurricanes and dinosaurs.
This all strikes me as odd and marvelous but missing a key feature, which is idiosyncrasy. Some of us are odd. I identify with the odd. Like old William Blake. I love that guy’s defiance. He was true to his imagination. Like in his letter to Reverend John Trusler in August, 1799, “Mirth is better than Fun & Happiness is better than Mirth - I feel that a Man may be happy in This World. And I know that This World is a World of Imagination & Vision I see Everything I paint in This World, but Everybody does not see alike. To the Eyes of a Miser a Guinea is more beautiful than the Sun & a bag worn with the use of Money has more beautiful proportions than a Vine filled with Grapes.”
There are boots in the closet that I hardly ever wear. But they’re there.
An actress off to the right of the screen on Facebook catches my attention: Mischa Barton poses topless on a balcony in Mykonas, Greece. Her breasts are mostly in shadow. But it’s not her tits causing all the fuss, it’s that she’s smoking a cigarette. Well, it’s gross, I agree, but it’s her life, her lungs.
Virtue for me has always meant living to the fullest, exceeding limits. Being absurd. Because being is absurd. Tell me it isn’t. Tell me a few brief years on this planet with all these hungry, battling, sobbing people isn’t just a little strange.
There are drugs to help with this. But be careful. Drugs can fuck you up.
There’s also cherry pie and dollops of whipped cream to make you smile a little occasionally.
I mean, some things are obtainable. Water, fruit, shelter, fire, tall kitchen bags, dragons, infinitives, one-night stands and onions.
As Eckhart Tolle says you’ve got to trust the pain in your life. Because there will be a lot of that.
I see Intérieur en jaune et bleue by Henri Matisse reflected in our bedroom mirror and dangle a language over an abyss.
Tortiller comme un ver. Squirm like a worm.
I study George Harrison sitting in a chair in a huge English lawn surrounded by dwarfs. I’ve long been captivated by this image from the cover of his first solo album, the one with “My Sweet Lord.” He looks so utterly at peace with himself. He seems to be really happy in those big rubber boots. He took gardening very seriously, says his son Dhani, would stare and stare at the surrounding trees and garden making changes in his mind.
I think he and William Blake would have gotten along just fine.