21 April 2013

Intellectual lassitude

I am lonely without something to read. Oh, it is not that my book shelf is empty: on it sits Confessions, the autobiography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Proper Study of Mankind, Essays by Isaiah Berlin, tomes to which I am invited by some urging but am then unwilling to continue the engagement. I leave each behind. On my ‘to be read’ shelf sits Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon, and NW by Zadie Smith and Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall. Oh there are others, I know,  No, there is no dearth of reading material that sits ready, even eager, to be grasped. But of late I seem only comfortable in the Zuckerman novels of Philip Roth. I am wondering what this condition suggests about my condition. (I seem to remember a song by Mickey Newbury in which occurs the line, “I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.” That is what I’m wondering).
As always, the book that I seek is the one that contains some answer to some unanswerable question. That book is the book that is lost, alas.
What does it mean not to know how to articulate the question? It is not as if nothing runs through my mind—or that my mind is not a running tape of fragments of ideas or images of events. It is not as if nothing goes on around me or in my life. It is rather that nothing seems connected, like a table full of puzzle pieces from too many different puzzles: no matter how hard I work I cannot put together two contiguous pieces and I look furiously at the array of pieces and feel confusion. I walk down stairs and stand before the books on my shelves and am drawn to none. I walk into the bookstore and pick up dozens of volumes, look at the cover, read the blurbs and look at the author’s photograph and put the book down. No, I don’t want to read about that right now; no, I’m not at all interested in this subject, indeed, any subject, it would seem, except maybe Nathan Zuckerman! I think I have either been Zuckerman or am becoming Zuckerman, but it is only his life that throws the least light on mine. I guess I am looking for another klieg light but I don’t know where it might be found or when found, how and on whom to focus it.
So, I spend time in the movie theaters. 42, Trance, and today To the Wonder. There I am becalmed, and I forget my self; I sit in the dark and somehow I don’t look for myself up there on the screen. The questions seem less important or intimate. Viewing Trance all I could think was “Huh?” and I was content enough. Maybe this is because I did not study film the same way that I studied literature. Well, no matter. Off to the movies next to which there is no bookstore.
Doesn’t this make no sense. Exactly! 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But it is connected. It's all a dream that was dreamed long ago.

21 April, 2013 13:46  
Anonymous Barbara said...

Makes perfect sense to me since you seem
to be describing my state or place in
life at the moment!

21 April, 2013 22:08  

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