Thursday, January 7, 2010


I have another hour to kill at the library. It is dark out. It is getting cold in this corner of the room and I've draped my coat over my shoulders. I'm hungry. I just looked at Ruth Reichl's twitter and now crave Chinese dumplings with soy dipping sauce. Must make a note to visit Supertaste on Eldridge Street in Chinatown and stock a freezer of dumplings like her. Can't have too many, really. Why is my mind blank today? Not enough ping-pong. Feeling tired due to stress at home plus cold and dark. The wall color at the library is turquoise gloss, reminding me of the antique Chinese teapot my mother kept in a credenza along with her exquisite Rothschild cups and saucers. House in Stuyvesant no longer on market. Wonder who bought it. Library still decorated with poinsettas. I wonder where you are. Things are so contradictory and confusing. Nothing happens. Or does it? I lead a split life, one with my feet on the ground, doing dishes, laundry, sleeping, typing, walking, and the other entirely somewhere else, with shadows, magic, or maybe just fancy, and mystery - or again, maybe just fancy. And yet.

MY Love is of a birth as rare
As 'tis, for object, strange and high ;
It was begotten by Despair,
Upon Impossibility.

Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble hope could ne'er have flown,
But vainly flapped its tinsel wing.
Marvell has it right. Despair is revelatory and transformative, unlike "feeble" hope which is hardly more than crossed fingers and perpetual smile. Maybe that's what will bring about real political change in this country, the heck with hope (whose spectrum opposite is malaise), but down and out desperate despair to make change happen. It's despair, ultimately I bet, that brought about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Dissidence is born of despair because there's nowhere else to go if you can't bear it. Politically despair won't fly here, but I do see the power of its raw, unbridled, electrifying state.

John William Waterhouse, Study for the Lady of Shalott (1894)

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