possibility of foam

If buried all but traceless in the dark in its energy sitting, drifting within your own is another body—Anne Carson, “Seated Figure With Red Angle (1988) by Betty Goodwin”

There is something about living in a city, and it has to do with the surroundings being artificial, constructed by humans. Here we sever ourselves from real nature. Here what nature there is persists under duressit may even seem to be a thriving minority, but it will always be the minority. The muted signs of seasonal change vagulate. The constant reminders of the hubris of so-called civilized people swarm in smothering tones. Callousness blankets us. The automobile serves as master and slave. I am concerned.

There is another body inside of my body.¹ And it is drifting. And it is all but traceless in the dark. Whose body is it. Is it mine. Or does it belong to someone quite different.

It is an unfortunate thing to recognize that you are not one who is meant to live in such close proximity to other humans. And yet here you are, aren’t you.

John Stabb from Government Issue sang:

In that comfortable rut again
Goals for the talking man
Outside lies a presence
But a lonely spirit’s walking rut

And he can’t get out
Man in a trap

Deeper things getting direct
Empty social life’s a wreck
Weather and insects tonight
Happiness in black and white

And he can’t get out

Sometimes we come to embody the lyrics we listen to in our youth. This is neither here nor there. It is life. I think we’re all a little bit surprised when we get there. Or here.

Let’s find more creative ways to fail. And write about those ways in more creative ways.

Anne Sexton wrote:

The silence is death.
It comes each day with its shock
to sit on my shoulder, a white bird,
and peck at the black eyes
and the vibrating red muscle
of my mouth.

Anne reminds us that silence can be as menacing and intrusive as noise. A reminder that we are all out here flailing about. And some of us don’t make it. Like Anne herself. Some of us sink beneath the surface, our lungs filled with shards of the little brittle things in life. The ones that drifted beyond our reach, slow or quick, only to be breathed back in with fatal heaving breaths.

Recently I spent a fair amount of time writing up a review of a show I went to the other night but I lost interest. It suddenly seemed unimportant. Literally as I was writing it, I felt the words spelling out into nothingness. The only point of interest remaining when I finished was a question: What do we want from our rock stars? And do we even want them to be stars? I don’t go to see live music much anymore and rock music even less so. But this question startled itself into my mind and would not leave. Music once loved can be tainted. And how a band presents itself to its audience can either win me over or leave me cold. These are the lessons I learned. Outside the womb can be harsh.

There is foam² spilling out here. As winter prepares to wrap us in its icy sharp arms, I am awash with foam. And it may never dry.

___________________________________________________

1. See also: this post

2. For more on foam, see Anne Carson’s essay “FOAM (Essay with Rhapsody): On the Sublime in Longinus and Antonioni,” originally published in Conjunctions 37 and reprinted in the book Decreation (2006).

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4 Comments

  1. Have to think about this, thank you!

    Reply
  2. taidgh

     /  November 16, 2012

    A thumbs up for your streams of whateverness. Posts like these are great. I like the poetic, lyrical quality of the last part: ‘There is foam spilling out here. As winter prepares to wrap us in its icy sharp arms, I am awash with foam. And it may never dry.’ Being wrapped up in sharp icy arms. Images of being stabbed by icicles and daggers come to mind. You’ve painted a great picture. The foam also puts images of the harsh, icy, foamy Atlantic Ocean into my head.

    I think living in a city constructs a different view or relationship with nature. I live in a small town that’s surrounded with nature. If I look out my window I can see mountains. Sometimes I romanticise about the city. I long for it. But my thoughts always come back to nature where silence is pure and unobtrusive.

    All that’s to say – thanks for your post and for getting me thinking ;)

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments, Taidgh. All of my adult life I’ve felt torn between urban vs. rural life. There are advantages to both the city and the country, and as you point out, it’s easy to romanticize one, especially when you’re living in the other. At this point in my life, though, I am pretty well sure I’m beyond the allure of the city. Like you, I feel the power of silence in nature is a stronger force. One day I will get back there where I belong.

      Reply
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