Wednesday, October 05, 2005

If I Can Remember Having Lived.

If I can remember having lived before and been different than I am now, then I can imagine the years that still lie before me, and that with their passage i will move and change and age and die. I do not fear death; but I fear disintegration. I cannot envision the dissolution of my consciousness. I cannot believe in its possibility. I want to die bravely, in words, my last thoughts clear and conscious; and I feel somehow that if I can manage this, then I can manage a sort of immortality. But I have never seen an admirable old age and I cannot imagine dying bravely after having been so enfeebled. I have seen the old empty and denying, I have seen them hard and miserable in their fear, senile and babbling, or far more rarely, too complacent in some thin accomplishment. When weakness strips me of all my human dignity, will I be able to face anything bravely? But perhaps it is dignity itself that is the weakness. Dignity is a frail and slender lie that pretends to find in an individual unearned qualities based on an abstract ideal of humanity. I should learn to shed my dignity before I am forced to let fall its final tattered shreds. It is possible to be weak and shaking, unable to speak, to shit in one's pants and still be human. To have the courage to be ridiculous before others is to have the courage to die. But it is easy to speak of death when one views it as distant. I just heard a crash somewhere in the dark and was rendered blank-minded by fear. Although I know that at any moment I might die, I know also that the far greater probability is that I have half a century still stretching before me. I choose, as we all do, to believe in this probability as though a certainty. But at some point, that half a century will wear itself out, and if I still live I will be living robbed of the comfort of those long and likely years. Old age lives unable to pretend any longer that death is not an inevitability. The old simply sit and wait, no longer struggling, aware that there is no hope for possibility, no time for change. And though the imminence of death is the single defining fact of their lives, still few admit this to themselves, because the thought that what they have never lived they never now will live is too terrible a thought. But dying consciously is no more terrible than living consciously. Each stage of life is singular and precious only in its singularity; each moment passes never to be lived again. Our youth is, in this manner, as much a part of our dying as our old age.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

This Book.

This book obliterates. It reduces everything to dust and leaves me stranded in the blank hum of reality. My parents think I learned to devalue things somewhere outside their house; but they taught me this book without even knowing what it does, that it whispers that nothing matters that it takes you outside of the world so that even the very structures it teaches seem false and unimportant even as it, the words, continues to pulsate with truth. It sounds back at me my own disbelief. It declares the truth of its own falsehood. It leaves me shivery and tearful and afraid. There is so much power in the lack of things, truth in the emptiness, reality in the absence of structure. There is so much that is not human and so much in what is and we mix it all up and call it truth. We do not know what is outside ourselves; we know only how we interact with the world and the world is what it is because we are here. Science says that things change for being looked at but that's not the way to put it. In fact, the looking is part of the thing. Changed from what? It never happened without the looking; that was something else. So many false flights away from the human. So much hope that some destruction of self and intuition and feeling some reduction to structure will free us from what we are. Religion and science. Contempt for the human. Objectivity. And I've only ever lived because I had words and I'll only ever live if I make my own. But I want to live and I want to feel things and be things and we're all afraid of living because we're afraid of dying, because movement leads toward death and routine creates the illusion of stillness. We're so afraid of death that we deaden the love of life in ourselves, make life something we don't want to live and then sigh about it. Everything is terrible, even what is beautiful. Nothing is simple; nothing is good. Life swims before my eyes and I write it down vaguely and abstractly instead of setting it down in its actualities with its people and events. I have to write. I have to make something. I don't know what to do if I don't. I don't know what will happen to me. I can't imagine years ahead of this self that flies away into nothing. Something must grow before my eyes and hands. I wish sometimes that it didn't have to be words; but they bang inside my head with so much urgency. I whisper them aloud all the time, on the street, at work. But this will never be whole, this rambling, these lazy summaries of things. One must build a solid thing. Connect oneself firmly with everything instead of simply reacting. Layer stories and people so thickly that they build a whole real sense of things. And all I wish now is that I had someone to send this to. I have no one else who cares at all that I'm a human being and it's my own fault because I'm so unaccustomed to thinking of myself as a human being. I stretched today and thought about how once I had forgotten so completely that I had a body, that I had a face even, that anyone ever saw me, that these arms were mine, these legs, these eyes and hands and hair and that they are the only ones I will ever have. I am still surprised that people react to me based on looking, react even to the expressions on my face. I must learn to take responsibility for my physical presence. We die and so we discover in so many people's old age that they have never lived outside of their time, that they are stuck in what they can live through, that things are already moving beyond them and that their deaths will be so final, so complete. They will be in the history books as those mysterious masses whose movements defined the time. The people who did all the things they didn't know they were doing. I persist in falling into things; I don't make them. Weakness always lives alongside strength. I don't know what that means, if it means anything at all; I am writing things before I think them.