Night after night without sleep. Morally certain that two or three good night's sleep would make the swelling in my knee go away; morally certain that it will never, never happen. Macbeth hath murdered sleep. Some animal in my brain, who lurks above the amygdala, but not far above, tells me dispassionately, with great conviction, that I will never sleep until I am well; and that I will never be well until I sleep. Fair enough. Stories of inflammation and toxins flicker through my mind; but I can't bring said mind to bear long enough, and steadily enough, to deal with them rationally. I only note, in passing, my psychological susceptibility to them. I feel poisoned. So do we all. That doesn't make us poisoned: not, at any rate, in body.
Immense weariness. I tell myself I've made up my mind, I've decided, my life is not of a piece and it never will be. Stop chasing the will o' the wisp of health, of integrity, of wholeness! Just give it up. Live half in light and half in shadow. But I haven't made up my mind. I can't. Anything that looks even remotely like wholeness draws my eye, irresistibly. And in the meantime the years sift away. I used to be able to fake having something to offer: but now I am truly, obviously bankrupt. All this looks different in a middle-aged man: it will look even more different in a dying one.
I know, I have friends – or I used to have friends – who would label this as guilt, a morbid condition of self-disesteem: but I do not feel guilty at all. On the contrary, I feel exasperated and put-upon. Will no one stick to the damned point? The old stories are useless now. We are in a different country.
The one way forward seems to be in making. I don't believe that crap about artists being unacknowledged legislators. God help you if you take your laws from artists: I've known too many of them, and we're a sorry lot: we don't know a damn thing. It's not that I'll make an answer. Not even that I'll find an answer in the making. But making is the one thing that feels untainted, that feels free of the poison and the wheel. It is the one thing I can do. Craft: the right line in exactly the right place: that is as satisfying as ever. I will fashion things so beautiful they'll make the heart catch. And be damned to wholeness. There is not that much time: there was never that much time.