By bullets I mean unwanted, unyielding change. By dodging I mean dodging. By shooting I mean effecting. This, then, is the title with which I catalogue the past year and a half, not only my own life, but of many of those close to me.
There may be cosmic reasons for the dodging, the shooting. If you add up the digits in 2016 you end up with 9, which according to numerology is the number of finality. But if you add up 2017 you get a 1, from whence the infinite is launched. Going from end to start, and not the other way around, is sloppy. Sloppy, sloppy.
The Chinese calendar had 2016 as a monkey and 2017 as a rooster. Both are highly annoying animals, at the very least acoustically.
Then there is my blood type. O-, the universal donor bitch. But that is a bad example of what I am trying to get at. My point is that there is something amiss in the air these past few years. Something smells, and it is recent and I am not the only one holding her nose.
What is going on?
America had a perfectly decent terrible candidate to elect, and instead elected an armed child. Beer sales are dropping in poor countries. All clothes look the same. Sorrow is the city, is the suburb, is the soon-to-open train.
I wish I knew what the lesson was. So I could learn it enough to play the shooting game.
The silence of the poem returns:
Perhaps it is by sudden, suburban death
Close enough to cry in dry heaves of breath
Perhaps it is by ever-lasting absence
Of right mother —
The slamming down of my infant head
Confirms all sweetness now is fled
But then there are benches in this town
To go around
And I had a moment of silence
Where the pen my poem has found
Joan Didion on the importance of note taking.
From “The Year of Magical Thinking”.
Remarkable thoughts from Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking.”
Pains of the soul versus pains of the tooth. From Hans Christian Andersen’s story “Auntie Toothache,” found in the Penguin Classic compilation of his “Fairy Tales.”
For a few weeks this book has been on my mind. Didion, Didion, Didion. And her “Year of Magical Thinking,” written during the first year she mourned her husband’s sudden death.
This for me has proven to be a year of magical thinking, a year of metamorphosing concrete barricades into trampolines via transformative thought.
Magical thinking works. Didion said it first. I look forward to going through her words.
So I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Relato de un Náufrago” (“The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor”) in one sitting. I had my doubts when buying it beacuse I tend to find that all shipwreck stories are the same. Sun, thirst, hunger, dead fish.
Indeed, my favorite part of the tale was Marquez’s introduction, which included the stupendous description above of the Colombian historical context at the time the story was published (apologies to non-Spanish readers).
And, while no one can say that Marquez’s shipwreck tale is bad, it’s a story of sun, thirst, hunger, dead fish. It does interweave an interesting message, however, of the difference between the fear of dying and the fear of death.
Death, actually being dead, does not scare the narrator. Death is a form of salvation, the end of water hell. But the act of dying is immediate, terrifying hell. The options are not good: sharks, imagined carnivorous turtles, burnt lungs.
Fear of going through such terrible experiences keeps the narrator from letting himself die, no matter how much he claims to want the out of death. As a result, he stays alive.
With this story Marquez confirms that our extreme cowardice when faced with gore, pain, any form of death by dying is so effective that it finally makes us brave.