He found in the world without as actual what was in his world within as possible. Maeterlinck says: “If Socrates leave his house today he will find the sage seated on his doorstep. If Judas go forth tonight it is to Judas his steps will tend.” Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brother-in-love. But always meeting ourselves. The playwright who wrote the folio of this world and wrote it badly (He gave us light first and the sun two days later), the lord of all things as they are whom the most Roman of catholics call dio boia, hangman god, is doubtless all in all in all of us, ostler and butcher, and would be bawd and cuckold too but that in the economy of heaven, foretold by Hamlet, there are no more marriages, glorified man, an androgynous angel, being a wife unto himself.
“There is a man who travels around the world trying to find places where you can stand still and hear no human sound. It is impossible to feel calm in cities, he believes, because we so rarely hear birdsong there. Our ears evolved to be our warning systems. We are on high alert in places where no birds sing. To live in a city is to be forever flinching.
The Buddhists say there are 121 states of consciousness. Of these, only three involve misery or suffering. Most of us spend our time moving back and forth between these three.
Blue jays spend every Friday with the devil, the old lady at the park told me.
“You need to get out of that stupid city,” my sister said. “Get some fresh air.” Four years ago, she and her husband left. They moved to Pennsylvania to an old ramshackle house on the Delaware River. Last spring, she came to visit me with her kids. We went to the park; we went to the zoo; we went to the planetarium. But still they hated it. Why is everyone yelling here?
The philosopher’s apartment was the most peaceful place I knew. It had good light and looked out over the water. We spent our Sundays there eating pancakes and eggs. He was adjuncting now and doing late nights at the radio station. “You should meet this guy I work with. He makes soundscapes of the city.” I looked at the pigeons outside his window. “What does that even mean?” I said.
He gave me a CD to take home. On the cover was an old yellow phone book, ruined by rain. I closed my eyes and listened to it. Who is this person? I wondered.”
—Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation
(This is actually an early chapter in its entirety. It’s a very short and amazing novel. I really loved it. I loved it so much I contacted Jenny Offill and she was super nice to me and sent me emails and was just really cool. You should at least read more about the novel in this article about it. Trust me, yo.)
Coffee would be so good even if it wasn’t so warm and kind but it being so warm is like over the top. It’s like putting a hug in your mouth.
The days when you could talk about federal judges without explicitly saying which president had appointed the judge or judges you mentioned—if there ever were such days—are so over. Before you finish telling me the decision a federal court came to I want to know who appointed the judges on each side.That’s the direction of things.
The heavy weight of a world with no patience for a tired man. If our God is the marketplace, our church is selling our own souls—-nah, I’m just kidding, I’m good, man. Having some coffee, that old non-alcoholic liquid friend. What’s on your mind, you old warm hearted bicycle thief of a man?
I should have gone to bed earlier.
I can tell because my heartbeat is a man snapping his fingers five miles away and all of my blood is just a dark sludge of pure tired. I lament the arrogance that kept me awake despite the warnings of the clock. I am but a shadow of myself this day and shall be not even the blinking ghost of my well-rested self until I can dream again. I lament, I tell you, I lament!
I love fiction but I love people poking it too. Lorrie Moore said plots are for dead people. I don’t know what she means exactly. But I love the mischief in it, don’t you?
You know what would be amazing?
A novel that felt like a scandal.
Not like a CNN scandal. But, like, you’re reading the novel and go: Holy shit, this is a thing you can do? Into whom the fuck will I be transformed when I’m done reading this thing?
If someone, like, during romantic fighting, suddenly demanded of the person they were dating “do you swear this is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” it would strike me as the height of naivety and blindness. As if that kind of truth is possible from a scared, self-interested being! The fact that this is like our society’s official demand in serious proceedings seems a lot more terrifying than just saying it’s cartoonishly simplistic and naive. It suggests, at least to me, not ignorance about the inability of human beings to perceive and hold onto accurate versions of what has happened to them, but a deliberate effort to pretend that there are answers where we simply have none because we refuse to admit that that the complexities of ourselves and the world far outpace any ritualistic efforts to untangle those complexities formally. Or to put it more simply, the scariest liars don’t even know they’re lying and honest people are often filled with doubt and will, at best, just try to help you put some of the pieces together. Our little oath is backwards and sort of reveals that we’re afraid of how tough the pure truth is to find—or even imagine finding in a trustworthy way.
I’ll go to sleep after I listen to this Sam Smith song another 400 times.
I should go to bed now. What did whoever say? Emerson?
In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
I think about that late at night. Genius as digging, not as building.
Whatever. I also think about what Seinfeld says to airplane pilots:
Yeah, okay. Whatever. Just end up where it says on the ticket.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, probably eight of the best twenty five people I know about are on this site and if I ever really spoke about how great you guys are it would probably seem insane on my part. I’m not talking internet friendship—which people think is crazy. I’m talking hardcore internet admiration. So please, just know the truth, you delightful, wonderful people: I know how good you are. I can’t talk about it or else I’ll seem crazy but, trust me, I KNOW how great you are.
I love it when you watch something in slow motion and it still happens fast.
Like we don’t have technology for that magic yet.
It’s fast even at the slowest we can make it.