We've come to another Friday, my Puddlers. There is another round of summer movies to be had, another round of summer dresses to observe women wearing and the continued hope of periods of rain, giving way to after-rain, which might be the most pleasant time to live in a city in the summer—especially if a park and a bar and a woman in a light purple dress are nearby.
I'll be dodging the heat this weekend and listening to the new Bon Iver album, which is fantastic. I recommend you listen to it as well as I'll probably be writing about it, rain, and Cat Stevens very soon. Also, next week look for one of those sprawling epic posts that has made me famous among those who detest fame.
However, today, we have Mark Jack in what I believe is one of his most poignant and on point posts, which is saying something because I feel like he has been on a roll over the past month. So, without further ado, I give you your Friday dose of Mr. Mark Richard Jack.
Sometimes it seems like there is a certain satisfaction in circling around the glories of cultural appetites, even when it might be better to avoid that kind of taste altogether, that kind of circuitous observance and thought. I feel like I ought to do less of that, that circling, and instead move straight to the page or the computer screen or whatever. But then I fear my hand’s weakness, my eyes’ unwillingness and my mind’s flightiness and I circle and circle.
So when I’m told, “You can’t just get drunk and wait to become a writer,” or something like that, I’m terribly embarrassed by all the crass assumptions I’ve been making.
I just finished reading Swann’s Way and, don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about it. I don’t know that I could say anything that worthwhile. It is a stunning work that has enough baggage around it without my contributions. I was talking to a friend recently who said she tried to read it but couldn’t get into it, claiming disinterest in long passages about doorknobs. I don’t remember any particularly long passage about a doorknob but if it’s in there, I want to find it and confront one of the (most likely) most beautiful descriptions of a doorknob in literary history. Read it.
Reading Proust’s long passages on memory, I am forced to confront my own problems as “presence.” I wish I could be upset about something I’d done, rather than something I continue to do, for I could look on it all, then, as my past. For so many years I have not regretted, which is perhaps to say that I have not truly remembered. Either way, while I have recognized mistakes I’ve made and disliked aspects of my previous selves, I have never wished for the opportunity to change. I have been fairly content with myself—the smug bastard—and perhaps feared some disruption of the space-time continuum, and so never even considered things like, wanting to go back to high school and not buy that weed that got me expelled. I find myself rejecting, somewhat, that Doc Brown mentality recently, which leaves me in a shitty position. And I must admit that, while I am more inclined to it, time travel remains a fantasy.
I am actually happier, now, and in a fuller sense, than I have been for years, and it is this happiness that has made my regrets more punishing, as I have reached a place where I am beginning to feel that I deserve or at least have worked for a better life than one which consists of being taken advantage of at service industry jobs. I was interviewed on a WNYC show last fall and they tried to tell me I’m “malemployed” because I worked at a bar even though I have a B.A. That is, until they found out I majored in literature.
I think it is important to struggle with memory and reject mistakes, but not punish oneself for them in the present. I mean, we can’t be depressed because we did something shitty when we were ten, but we shouldn’t convince ourselves that the event was an integral part of a delicate narrative that has led to a person; a “me” that I am satisfied with, to a reasonable degree. Somehow, that attitude, which has been the predominant attitude of my life, is one that refuses real confrontation with oneself, either in the past or in the present, and one which, as it performs an act of avoidance also performs an act of inclusion. That is to say, we refuse to confront our mistakes so as to better establish them in convenient areas of our lives so that they are remembered as fitting, linear narratives. “Even though I shouldn’t have behaved that way,” this manner of thinking suggests, “it was integral to the self that I have become and to reject that mistake is to reject my self, which is a mistake.” Dumb bit of logic there, eh? I mean, why shouldn’t we reject ourselves, ever. I reject the drug obsessed arrogant puissant that I was my freshman year of college. I wasted a lot of time, a lot of everyone’s time. That kid that I was was a piece of shit, and since there is no Dolorean to take me back, I cannot know that if I slapped my former self around a bit and made him get his shit together a little sooner that somehow the world would’ve ended yesterday. Also, and this is the truly unfortunate thing about the lack of a flux capacitor, I cannot slap that obnoxious piece of shit that was me around, not even a little. My one consolation is to understand that; that self is not me.
P.S. I am moving to Berkeley, CA in August. Any help with job opportunities would be awesome. Thanks.