Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hello darling, Cunegonde here, cultivating her garden (sort of), and occupying her aerie, her thoughts meandering, because she prefers not to be a bureaucrat anymore...

I have just finished re-reading a wonderful essay, very thought-provoking and brilliant, that resonates with me (link here). I feel as though I see myself in it, through the lens of "Bartleby" and of Occupy Wall Street. Oh -- so that's what I have been doing, or feeling, albeit somewhat unconsciously, not realizing that in fact I'm not so much between the cracks, but feeling very much as a great many people do, multitudes, whole generations coming up -- ah, so I am, in some sense, part of some sort of cultural, political mainstream, however inchoately I comprehend it.

I like the education I received, that taught me to appreciate, and to think -- but the world of work I entered bore no relation to it. And now I feel closer to who I am, just being able to type here to you, quite peaceably up in the aerie, sweater draped over my shoulders, salads for dinner ready to be assembled on the counter.

I truly wonder what I would do if I were *forced* to go back to work. It could very well happen. But I don't know what I would do. I simply haven't the energy or will for it anymore, to strive, to achieve, to be a go-getter. I used to have that kind of drive -- or, at least, with youth, I was able to fake it, even if I didn't feel it -- now I have mature authenticity combined with energy drain.

I wonder how you do it, darling. Well, of course you're a different person, wired differently, and with different motivations from me. But I just wonder -- about the huge disconnect between publicly professed political affiliations, say, and the reality behind such labels. That the labels are just that - labels - and the meanings behind them have shifted mightily. And also that the labels, like ball-team pennants to be waved at a game -- don't tell you anything about the life-experience of the guy in the stands, rooting for (why exactly?) "his team."

I know I'm not making sense. This is not going to be a great post, I know that, and no, I'm not apologizing in advance, I think I'm just reserving the right to be a little incoherent if I want to, as I grapple with these thoughts that collide and intersect and jostle with each other like unsettled molecules.

I've been thinking a lot about religion lately, my relationship with it, especially given my new ongoing affiliation with a church. And I know I'm not saying anything fresh or new here, but for myself, I am so resistant to bureaucratic, authoritarian, hierarchical, religious structure. It truly seems absolutely antithetical to me to what I hear when I listen, every Sunday, to the readings from the Gospel. I can hardly believe -- it makes me feel a little crazy -- that "fundamentalism" in its twisted perversions seems so antithetical to me to the spirit of what I hear in the story of Jesus and his teachings.

Another thing that happened -- is that people, such as those in our families, were so happy to escape (Nazi German) Fascism and (Soviet) Communism --- that they, very uncritically it seems to me, embraced Capitalism, as the antidote to the former evils. But hasn't the latter turned into a Monster for -- if not their generation -- then for ours?

I don't mean to sound lofty, or announce some manifesto, or anything like that. But another thread I think of, very vaguely -- is the character of Oblomov, in Russian literature. I'm very vague on him; I saw a Russian film of the story once, many years ago. I think he's characterized as being this very very lazy, enervated, unmotivated man. Because it just takes so much energy --- to be a hamster on the wheel. And he would wish to be the hamster -- now, why - exactly? And so he sleeps late, putters around the house. Well, I don't sleep late - in fact, I tend to have bouts of insomnia -- but certainly I do a lot of puttering, to no great show, or effect, or ostensible purpose. I mean, I do keep things tidy. And I cook. But the garden is completely out of control -- I have thrown up my hands. But maybe my just being a Cunegonde/Oblomov -- maybe that's enough. (I do type here, after all.)

And I think of Chekhov, and The Cherry Orchard. Ah those decadent handwringing faded aristocratic bourgeoisie! No, that's not how I see them now, if I ever saw them that way at all. No, rather that so very very much is lost when cherished gardens are obliterated -- in favor of brutalist constructions in the name of "future," and "progress," hegemony, and "right."

In Afghanistan, women risk their lives in order to write poetry.

I don't have to, though I wonder what I would do if I suddenly had to support myself. As it is, I wouldn't survive, not well, for very many days, without D steadily dribbling in the cash, so that we keep living here, even as weeds sprout high all around us.

I remember, a very long time ago, visiting my cousins' house, one weekend from college. And I got in a heated discussion, in the cozy night kitchen, with my uncle, who didn't yet have Alzheimer's. But he was very rigid in his views, very fixed, and very argumentative. And whatever thoughts and feelings and beliefs I was trying to articulate, to no avail, didn't fit into his "logical" framework. And my uncle was kindly...

I like the Bartleby approach -- I prefer not to. I prefer not to get drawn into tedious arguments, into someone else's frame, simply so as to defend the integrity of my own person -- which is what it feels like to me. No, let me be.

I don't know what's going to happen. I think that if Jesus were here, from what I hear in the gospels, I think he would be horrified at the terrible toll Capitalism, among other 'isms' -- but it's this one, of late, in its galloping globalist force and reach -- has taken on the World (that God so loved).

I think that if He were to see all the money-grubbers, doing business in the name of God (taking his name in vain) in the figurative temple -- he'd be incensed.

What I feel -- is counterpoised against "fundamentalism" in American religion, now for sure, and probably for at least 150 years or more. Emily Dickinson, born 1830 -- one can hardly think, really, of a more crystalline spiritual being -- who loved God, I'm sure of it -- had to stand her ground against the falseness of it, as played out in American cultural & religious life. No wonder she retired to her -- aerie.

Ah, yet again, no great finish. I think my sense of God, and of Jesus, and of the worth of life on this earth, of human life, and life of creatures, and of trees we've planted -- has to do with scale, the liveable scale -- size, pace, tempo, speed -- of this amazing place we are tenants to very temporarily, for very short spells --

but my wishing perhaps, keeping the idea open, that there might be a life hereafter
(I don't need 'proof,' or even to 'believe')
as an artist, as a lover of cinema, I can absolutely allow for the idea that there is an unseen projectionist, and that there are other realms

lamest finish ever -- but I believe that meaning has a great deal to do with scale

and to disrupt that kind of incredibly fragile balance, and relationship among objects --

well, I'm very glad --

you, with a hard hat in a Port, working so hard, away from your family for so long, consulting a clipboard, checking your iPhone, worrying about your family, of whom you're so far away...

and there you are amid the stacks and stacks of containers and tankers and power plants and parking lots and vast seas and huge sky

dearest Pablo -- I wish I could meet you there, on a pier
remove your hardhat for a moment
in the windswept noise of fierce blows & sea
put my arms around you
the elements would threaten to all but devour us
but we'd stand our ground
the tiny two of us
lost in our kisses, breaths, protrusions
come darling
let's go in

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