Sunday, August 31, 2014

The animal found itself awake.  Sunday, eve of Labor Day, and in some hours of time back to work, back to the job kept for food and health insurance, the usual bills.  More often than not he spared himself the embarrassment of being awake too early, to avoid the thought constantly in the background, "what's the point of all this anyway."

The day before, with a throbbing headache he had managed to get to the park late afternoon after calling his mother, for a bike ride of medium length, Labor Day picnickers with their parties set up in the wooded pastures where the road diverged from the stream bed and the flats were wide.  The night before, his best friend's 50th, to which he brought four bottles of decent wine.  At some point he had some of the cheap stuff;  was that the source of headache?  Parked cars along the road, but still he was out in nature, inherently therapeutic on all levels.

It was humid, and his phone allowed him directions to approach a friend's party in Silver Spring, and he almost turned back when he got to 16th Street, but he made his way along a sidewalk, even as they seemed to lead to major roads, but the way proved passable, and he pressed his way along, pedaling up side streets into residential neighborhoods, after the modest shabby brick apartment buildings that seemed to hold recent immigrants, but for which he could probably not be able to afford himself, this animal who wrote and got by with a job of a certain sort.  Past bungalows, and larger Victorian style houses and houses in between and modern square Levittown brick cubes with roofs of white trim, a mix, and then better neighborhoods and then pulling up to a ranch, the right address.  He had a Sprite, smiled awkwardly in his cycling clothes, knowing all the while that he needed to leave soon, before it got dark, sunset at 7:40, less than an hour away.  An adventure, crossing the big roads, finding himself above the high rises of downtown where the metro station sits.  Keyed up, he slipped out and soon enough back in Rock Creek Park in the forest, the stream to his left as he headed home, then crossing over a bridge, where it would come back around and be a long series of falls.

Dusk settled.  Up the long hill and crossing Connecticut, to climb up a little more, to come pass the Cathedral, then back down homeward, coming up his street in darkness.  Bats had buzzed the light of his helmet headlamp a week before, none now that he saw.  He got home, did a few stretches, fell into a worn-out kind of a nap on the couch still sticky, twinges in his head still.  Saturday night, what to do, take a nap, rise up at about 11, get in the shower, eat modestly, pick up a book, My Struggle, Book One, curiously led along by it, finding it familiar, speaking to his own writing, the admissions of one's own embarrassments and imperfections and yet also one's deeper unknown style.  And he imagined that he too had something, or still had something, profound, which involved a kind of strange peace the writer had to find with his own personality, the eccentrics that Knausgaard himself made reference to, like the need for the alone-time of night.  If one were to write a book it would have to be, honestly and admittedly, like drilling down into one's own strange center, to capture the outer movements that come, actions not exactly controlled.

Yes, there was something good and decent, heroic about the writing Knausgaard had come up with, plain, nothing earthshaking happening, thus real, evocative of the animal's own remembered landscapes and experiences, the sensual side of memories that now had long ago vanished leaving him uncomfortable, unprotected, unsettled, undecided, but for the strange fact that now it only seemed possible to continue climbing the strange mountain of writerdom, having once been fool enough to start out and the main mistake being the fact of allowing so many years to pass by in pursuit of it, neither successfully nor unsuccessfully, shit.

The animal's own attempt at a reflective memoir fiction--fiction, as any attempt to find form out of the raw material of life, events, people's thoughts, words, must be a construct--had disappeared nicely without a splash, a book anomaly, "the novel in which nothing happens."  Which is actually real because of that 'nothing happening.'  But it had now, it seemed to the animal, a kindred spirit, if not with the self-confidence of the Norwegian, perhaps more spun to the softer younger more kid-like reflections, of a more Irish spirit, that remain even as you have to face some maturity and some decisions and even the consequences of them.  Reflecting now, over his own book, the thought came to him, was it that he had tried to hide, to prolong that time of adolescence, when there was still lots of room, potential, lots of options?   Was writing an extension of that, a further refusal to gel over any thing solid, a career, house, that sort of thing.  Commitments, they are called, by responsible people.  To what could you commit to?  Where could you jump into the stream and feel comfortable or at least deal with it?

To record conscious thoughts and reaction to external and internal stimuli, there is something of Buddhist wisdom to that, finding that experience itself is the foundation, coming before the illusion of a solid fixed separate self.  So that's real, and that's why people respond to a real book, yes, because it goes deep, through recording achieving the duty of getting beyond the isolated life, the box of being a particular person with particular duties, but still perhaps from being a Buddhist in the modern world having that deeply unsettling uncomfortable sense of the lacking of one's career record and security.   Yes, thinking about his thought, the animal, "things were never meant with bad intention, as the old saying goes about roads paved, but one can seem to go agreeably or perhaps just out of laziness and indirection to lost places."

But a good book, a good piece of meditation, a good piece of writing, that will always jump out at you, rise of the surface illusions, a thing, rising real, as having come upon a small reflection piece by the guy, on Northern Lights, and a Norway fishing village, and saying to oneself, hmm, that's good.  That's what you're after, the honest shit, that being something to share, that goes beyond the illusion of being just another lone person stuck somewhere in their own private fluctuations.  Maybe the better at it must lived life a bit lost personally in order to be remembering things, to be detached enough to find a form out of some deeper eye so as to put a particular event back in some peaceful context from out of which it sprung.

That something might rise from the background and catch the eye implies a surface, which implies a spherical object.  Perhaps one might conjecture that there is the outer skin, say of an orange, which tells us useful things, the skin of the peel telling us ripeness, but the essence of the orange, the sweetness of its fruit comes from within, not that this is a perfect metaphor, but perhaps there is the showy selfish part of a surface, obscuring that within, and then within is the selfless part, the quality of all oranges...

Ah, what's this sorry mood the animal is facing in the unenergetic questioning hour before blindly going to work.

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