And now, as a summer flower shatters in September, it was finished. There was no one.
Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
And now, as a summer flower shatters in September, it was finished. There was no one.
Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
It was a space reclaimed, that collection of moments had passed and we are better for it. Consequences deliquesce into puddles littered here and there, every motion a magnet, a will, a way, forever pulled into Opposite’s path.
There is no silence as sweet, no better absence. To be without is to have all that is needed, indeed. There is no movement as neat, no lovelier tidiness. To be without doubt is to have found oneself replete, never completed.
It takes but a second for it all to fall into place and just as long for it all to fall apart again. Simple sadnesses are never as simple as they seem—further complexities lace sorrow into resplendency—dawn breaks the day just as easily. We remain shattered and we are better for it, all a consequence, every patter but a sentence unending: not merely a day broken, surely not, it must be a doom delighted as that sunrise bleaches us, nothingness, with a contaminated brightness.
Do we all remember 529 Orchard Drive? It harbors the most sinister of secrets and I pass by with tears streaming from my eyes—running into gutters, draining, I never had a chance to say: ‘Goodbye.’
It is a matter of how it makes me feel, she says to the sky as it melts before her, the rain dampening her morning from the din of the darkness as it passes into daytime’s readiness. This window is but that, a view into a world of which I am not a part, a difference, myself having been disposed of, rejected. She turns away from it in shame, her heart having become heavy with a sorrow drenched in longing, as the patter of precipitation against the pane brings memories into focus, themselves becoming one with the present, as it all blurs together, one atop the other, with what was once elusive and distant now near in its definition.
It is a matter of what it means to me, this sensation, this crushing weight in my chest, she says to the ground as she prods it with a toe, her foot arched and small, drawing circles into the space she occupies, feeling as if she knows of this, the familiarity of it a friend of the cruelest kind when only the simplest of kindnesses had been her wish. How must I find fondness in this sense of otherness? She cries out quietly so as not to disturb, her awareness becoming sharp with an acuity designed for preservation, not for the observation of nothingness, her tea growing cold, as she stares into its dark depths, the earthy sweetness of it providing a rare, singular delight.
It is a matter of me not being me, or at least me not being what I feel myself to be, my sense of myself having been replaced by a substitute which works against me for reasons which remain forever far from grasp, she says to herself as she embraces what she knows, her body falling limp into a heap of helplessness, stricken, forsaken. As she lays convulsing, her mind moves within the emptiness of her being, long hallways lined with locked doors to joyful rooms, the disquieting quiet her confidant, the sympathy of the air as it lays still, itself offering calm to her sense of having disappeared but not entirely, desiring a final slippage so that she may no longer effect nor infect, she had meant nothing by it and so she sobs apologies to those never there, paper folded upon itself to construct fantasies unfounded, pitched pennies into fountains, the beginning of another day.
She sits beside her self at the edge of a lake, herself altogether apart while her self looks out onto a short pier which stretches out from where they sit, narrow and white and made of wooden boards one after the other, at the end of which a young boy is fishing as a novice, himself sitting and absentmindedly toying with the line as a colorful float bobs in the water nearby, himself staring into the water as if in a reverie, his eyes lost in thought.
The boy jerks the line suddenly as he stands upright and shows exertion as he reels in whatever has been snared, his concentration deepening, the tip of his tongue showing itself between teeth bared. After a few moments of undaunted effort, the boy pulls a glass ball through the surface of the water into the air and it is left dangling from the line as he and her self both gaze upon what has been revealed.
The glass ball is not large nor small and is darkly translucent; a hollow, smoky orb, inside of which the answers to every question have become obvious to each and whoever, swirling within the emptiness of it, hazily mixing with the reflection of the water as it warps along the exterior of the sphere, the sun sparkling against it as it hangs from the line, slowly spinning, an opacity growing from where it had been hooked until the transparency of the ball has become a solid blackness, its shell cracking and splintering, sand spilling from the fissures, things falling apart completely until but a shard is left pendulous, all else having returned to the murkiness of the lake, herself now sighing, having become worried about the boy.
“It was what I had always wanted,” said the boy to no one, for there was no one there to hear him. “It was the nicest thing. These waters were generous and I am grateful for it, though I shall not try again.”
She watched as he sat once more and prepared his line for another cast, weaving weary wishes onto the hook, past the barb which had taken so much from him, his tears forming puddles on the pier, his diminutive sandals shed yet neatly positioned one against the other and not far from him, they rest there together with the closeness of a friendship, the tightest of bonds, she thought: wouldn’t it be lovely to have something like that?
She sits with her self and listens to the water as its slow, rhythmic ripples twinkle against the stones which comprise the lakeshore, the softness of the gently rushing wind tickling her as it brushes past only to get caught within the leaves of a tree, the rustling, her neck bristling, her self abandoning her there as she swims within her memories, a darkness falling around her as she fails in her struggle with the sheerness of it, slipping helplessly along the side of this churning circumstance, this stunting malady off-kilter, awry, thus leaving her wilting and lost, straggling, and she topples into it after all, her self missing her as she sits beside herself, wondering in which way to wander next, as herself continues to fall.
I envied her anger. Try as I might to get angry, it slips away. There is nothing for me to seize onto, and so I reach out, and my hand passes right through all that I have.
Hiromi Kawakami, Manazuru, translation by Elisabeth Suetsugu
In considering it further, she came to understand that it lacked a voice and therefore should be forever without quotation—an unquotable emotion—a distinction that allowed her to feel its presence as a vaporous circumstance rather than an entity concrete. It became docile and still for a moment, as if made mesmerized, and it allowed her to weave herself into the fabric of its occurrence and assess it as the foul mistiness that it is, the injurious depths of it, the cloak which comes to shroud any attempt at construction with a vicious condemnation complete.
“It is a question of worth,” she said, as she made her way through the alleys of her state. “It descends like a fog over me until it becomes thick, toxic, like a sickly adhesive, trapping me within its fancy as it works its way into me, clouding all, until I am little more than a shivering thing, the deepest of loathing having replaced any semblance of blissful significance or carefree condition worthy of furtherance. And, perhaps, therein resides the heart of it, the matters of fact…
“There seems to be a requirement for an otherly consideration before an internal solidification is possible and, as it goes, having oneself not considered by another—when one wonders if they may be worthy of even the slightest of considerations—causes one to feel as if their own understanding of the self, or a sense of the self’s potential worthiness, is not only inconsiderate but also symptomatic, and one is left feeling not only worthless but insane.
“And from where has this all been born, from what origin has this pathetic perplexity been produced? Oh, goodness, good deary me, we know and we are not telling: for to do so would spoil the fun!”
In considering it further, she came to the conclusion that all was inconclusive, though she had a most itchy suspicion and she spread it evenly into the recesses of the walls which contained her, the blankness offering her the simplest of solaces as it all became smoothly cohesive, a narration worthy of rumination and resignation, a newfound patience with the story as it unwinds however slowly, however tangentially, however frustratingly oblique.
She has been quieted and she is thankful for it, as night descends upon her madness, the hum of sleepless machinery her only friend. Another day steeped in the warmth of productive ponder whilst on a wander, the undulating hills, the place by the lake where a couple of the gentlest comforts are met with and consumed. (And, it must be noted, we may have unexpectedly stumbled upon a wonder of a book this afternoon whilst rummaging through the rows of a librarian’s fair offering…)
“There is something wrong with you, it is plain to see,” it said, forthrightly.
She put her hand to her brow, as if to swoon, and sighed: “What do you think it might be? The color of my dress or the blood as it runs from my eyes? Do not answer, you do not know, and any reply shall purely be to hurt me further.”
She tore from her mind the impulse, the craving, the unquenchable desire, and she tiptoed mincingly to the edge of her willingness, glancing timidly over the rim into the depths of her forsakenness, the blackness of it a mirror, and she distorted within its retort, it denying her suggestion…
“You will not find comfort in it; tenderness shall remain elusive. The ache you feel now will grow into an immensity profound: it will suffocate you, and you will find yourself drowned in the ostracism, yourself tearing yourself from the world yet again. How many lessons have you not learnt and yet you desire to be retaught rottenness afresh? How shall this time be any different than the rest? Do you require renewed proof of your spurn? A mark, a token?”
She stared into her stain and drained into the safety of her confinement, the window sealed shut and the curtain drawn with the ink of a pen depleted: an anchor severed from its charge. There was a stillness which overcame her as she imagined herself aloft, above it all, without need for any of it, a security ensured, and so she pulled paint from pot until she was firmly affixed into a corner, it all radiating from her purpose… As if one could ever understand that which had been stroked or spoke.
“I made a mistake,” she said, laying her brush at her side and propping her head into the palm of her newly-freed hand, her eyes resting on her heart as it moved within her, her fingers tapping a quiet message into a temple, it soundlessly resounding within a mind now dried. “I declared it to be punitive with precision, when it is broadly declarative, instead. It comes like a typhoon, a swell of ferocious emotion, itself washing over everything, angry and cruel. It knows nothing of preciseness, of particular crevasses into which it might flow. No, it is crude and overwhelming, without the courtesy of particular points, it envelops everything into its darkness, leaving me gasping and exhausted entirely, as if every excuse for merely living—for being, at all—has been reduced to a cinder, and then under boot I am finally reduced to a forgotten thing, as if none of this had reason for a moment, as if all of it was little more a uselessness prolonged.”
She lifted her eyes to the ceiling of her cell and blew kisses to these minuscule lights as they swirled around her, each harboring a clue towards solution, each a friend from afar and ever far from reach, and a tear formed in a corner and fell to the floor, where she remained completely, despite herself, torn into thirds, an argument, a victor, another day having departed without demarcation or difference: although is that truly the case?
She awoke with the distinct desire to depart to parts heretofore unexplored. In attempting to decide on a route, she found herself with a particular consternation in relation to the disturbing enumeration of denizens which would surely bespeckle all passages weaving within the city, and therefore she chose to move herself in a contradictory manner, with the intention of finding a far more barren, and thus far more tranquil, and thus far more pleasant, path. And so the country roads it would be, most certainly, the southernly way beckoning with a murmur so gentle that her heartbeat slowed to a tempo bestowed with the soft evenness of a trickling stream.
Unfortunately, she had made an error in reasoning and would soon find herself surrounded amidst a thicket of bother. She found herself entangled and entwined, this pestilence leaching any happiness from her, herself swatting at them and running past, tripping into the bramble with embarrassment and shame, and still they came, these intruders upon her day, this cancer of peopled particulate, they scratched at her and bit, again she tripped, and that, she thought, is it. Before her and behind, dropping from trees and dragging themselves from the ponds which lapped against the path along which she traveled, they immersed her in a torrent of torment, herself subsumed entirely, her heart now fluttering with the prestissimo of a hummingbird’s wings.
This was not what she had designed for her day and she felt infuriated with herself for her frustration and this irrational irritation inspired by such an immensity of instigation as these flocks of vexation had brought to what was intended to be the quietest and easiest of times. How her disdain rained upon the ground as she traveled above it, rivulets of derision running from her brow to where her distress had begun foaming at the corners of her mouth, her eyes rolling towards the sky, her heartbeat piercing her chest repeatedly with the needling staccato sharpness of these wearyingly wasping wanderers.
Eventually she would come to the outskirts of a small town and the horde had seemed to thin itself to a vanishing, appearances unapparent, a stillness and calm had fallen around her, the trees whispering wants to the wind, the fields stretching out in all directions in rows of crops absurd, the warmth of the air rising to meet her as the previous night evaporated from the earth, the sensible meaningless of it, a reality as ridiculous as it was serene. She climbed up onto a gate which had found footing in an expanse of fencing which enclosed a dying tree, its branches reaching without leaf towards a sky ignorant of its plight, a solitary breath winding its way across the hilltops towards an inevitable demise. She swayed on the metal lattice, rocking back and forth as she surveyed this scene, her heart melting at the sight of it, beats skipped as she murmured pleasantries in a winged solemnity and solidarity towards this stricken thing, it finding nothing within itself to return to her, and instead reaching once more, its heartbeat now a lost thing, adagio, largo, and on unto the grave.
She ran away from it all, back along the path, back the way she came, across wooden bridges held together with a perplexity of wishes, countless numbers of them, crossing this way and that as a stream made its way towards its freedom, another reminder of her seizure by the fits within her, shaking the memories from her as she ran, her fingers peeling away the claws from her arms as they grasped at her, her hair tangled in the thought of them, their beauty, their ease, their worthiness. She stumbled through her door and fell to the floor, weeping tears of gratitude for the lock as it bolted her in once more, the silence tumbling upon her like light from the sun, herself but a shadow replete with heartbeat, and she wept, and she swore to never alight upon such a desire again, tomorrow but a memory yet manufactured, a potential best left unexplored, and she lost herself to her fanciful folly, her cheek to the carpet, her mind lost to the idea of dwelling within itself forever more.
Why speaking to yourself in the third person makes you wiser
While the control participants showed no overall change in their wise-reasoning scores, those using illeism improved in their intellectual humility, perspective-taking and capacity to find a compromise.
how to do nothing by Jenny Odell (Her whose book, How To Do Nothing, I requested from the library this evening.)
that is a computer wielding a riding crop
A nifty piece on netsuke by Sabrina Imbler
“410: Gone”: Infocide in Open Content Communities by Joseph Reagle