The American writer has his hands full, trying to understand and then describe and then make credible much of the American reality. It stupefies, it sickens, it infuriates, and finally it is even a kind of embarrassment to one’s own meager imagination. The actuality is continually outdoing our talents, and the culture tosses up figures almost daily that are the envy of any novelist.
I need therapy, apparently. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to. Therapy, or a coach. I need someone to talk to who doesn’t care how things come out. Who doesn’t have a stake in the outcome.
How is it that I’ve come to this – that nearly everyone in my life is concerned with the decisions I make. I mean, we’re always concerned for our friends. We spend hours talking behind their backs about that asshole they’re dating, or why won’t they just lose 10 pounds, or what did they effing think that job was going to be like. My problem, though, is that so many people in my life will actually be affected by my decisions. It’s not a problem, exactly, it’s a blessing.
The point being: When I talk things over with my buddies, I can feel them trying to steer me, to lead me. I can see the moment – it’s in their eyes, it’s in the way they breath, the way they lean in, or act like they’re not leaning in. That’s the moment when they realize what stakes they have in the outcome. They form an opinion of what I should do that has more to do with them than me. Sorry, guys, it’s only natural, I do it too. And from that moment, the conversation is boring and useless. I wanted a sounding board, but now I just have a constituent. Blech.
But that’s what therapy is for, right? That’s how I’ve heard it told, that therapy is just a friend you can tell your troubles to who won’t judge you and won’t make you listen to their shit in return. That’s worth paying for, I think.
It is my own fault, of course. I’ve prioritized work and art over everything else. I have failed to cultivate friendships with uninvolved people. I remember, probably 10 years ago, a pal said he just didn’t know how to relate to people if they weren’t working on something together. said “Right on!” and shared that statement again and again. And then I started wondering if the people who heard me say it were (rightfully) writing me off. Did you think I meant you? I’m sorry, no, I actually like you, I’m talking about other people. People who just want to hang out. People who just want to catch up. People who wonder why I don’t share my frets and frowns, even though that’s what friends do to each other. FOR each other. I meant – That’s what friends do for each other. Share.
Well, I feel better. Is this what you came here for?
Let death be what takes us, not a lack of imagination.
– BJ Miller
Greil Marcus – Lipstick Traces
The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1929-1940
Remaking American Theater
Robert Pinsky – The Sounds of Poetry
Walt Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself illustrated by Allen Crawford
The Collected Poems of Frank Stanford
Susan Barker – The Incarnations
M.T.Anderson- Symphony for the City of the Dead
David Bartone – Practice on Mountains
The Selected Correspondance of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg
Tom Nissley – A Reader’s Book of Days
Kate Leth – Tips for Beginners: A Comic Guide to Getting Tattooed
“The most stylish people I’ve ever seen in my life were in Naples right after the Second World War. They were practically in tatters. But the way they threw themselves together and carried themselves, they really looked like a squill ion dollars.”
I’d like to be able to do this.
Honestly, I don’t know who half of these people are. But my heart just bursts – BURSTS – every time I watch this video. (And I keep watching it.)