from The Self Unstable
April 30, 2013
Apr 30, 2013
We can’t help wanting the pure word, though the corrupted word is better. Music is corrupted. Film is corrupted. The ’70s in particular were beautifully corrupt. I was born in the ’70s. As such, I am a kind of sublime porn. What is the sublime? I don’t know. I like sex, which is an approximation of porn. I like sports, which is an approximation of war. In the ideal human experience, we get as close as possible to suffering, veering away at the last second.
They slowed down Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony so it stretched over 24 hours. The effect was of a continual climbing, with no resolution—just an ever-building terror, the slowest imaginable scream. In a state of heightened time, everything reduces to fear, a sublime fear. Death gives us a reason to live.
I read about a man with severe amnesia, unable to form new memories, his diary filled with entries like I am awake for the first time . . . This time, finally really awake—the torment of perpetual now. I rarely transgress in a dream; I dream of the guilt that follows transgression. The weird double-bind of time: we don’t act in accordance with consequence, but we’d do nothing if we wouldn’t remember it. Our lives are lived in the past.
He said it was “an elegant scar.” My sex dreams are too realistic. We watch the sunset from a plane, and later, the city lights approaching in the dark, copper and green. Why are they all orange or green? My enemy. My enemy. If you tell me you love me, accidentally or automatically, I will always forgive you. How quickly the unexamined becomes the overexplained.
I was bitten by a feral cat, who left her fang behind in my hand. My dream life has its own past, memories I only access when asleep. When something hurts in a dream, where do you feel the pain? Is there an analog in the real world? And likewise, for the beauty? If we can’t change the past, regret is a waste of time, but not worry or longing. Still, I prefer regret. If time is a vector, we are passengers facing the rear of the train.
You can read a text just fine when the letters are out of order. This isn’t “my best work.” I admit I’m depressed for relief from depression; the effect doesn’t last. I say “Be careful flâneuring around with someone who loves you.” Happiness should be all that matters, but it’s not even high on the list. The hangover is one known form of regret that transcends culture.
Koans are used to provoke “the great doubt.” Contentment isn’t happiness. I told a student that desire comes from boredom. But I seek out desire, so why do I fear boredom? Maybe emotions are ideas. I believe in the end of history illusion but I also believe in the end of history, the failure of all imagination. The future isn’t anywhere, so we can never get there. We can only disappear.
While we have you...
...we need your help. Confronting the many challenges of this moment—from the medical to the economic, the social to the political—demands all the moral and deliberative clarity we can muster. While much remains uncertain, Boston Review’s responsibility to public reason is sure. That’s why you’ll never see a paywall at Boston Review. We've also gone one step further and become completely ad-free. This means you will always be able to read us without roadblocks or barriers to entry. It also means that we rely on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, pledge your contribution to keep it free for everyone by making a tax-deductible donation.
April 30, 2013