Wednesday, November 13, 2019


“Death I think is all right, you know? It’s a natural ending of everything. But I think it’s very important to be alive until the last moment. It’s important that death seem to be just an accident.” Mario Vargas Llosa, a 2015 interview in The Telegraph.

A sudden sharp yearning for everything to come to a point: it comes of years of reading stories, watching movies, listening to songs. The turn, the denouement, the moment the wave crashes -- so important to narrative, and so rare and ineffective in life. 

I view weddings and graduations and funerals and so forth with a distant horror: people are prone enough to fetishizing their expectations and encapsulations, without being encouraged in it. Let's all sit around and reinforce each other's prejudices, and wrap ourselves up on the bandwagon with barbed wire! I escape such things when I can.

The universe does sometimes squeeze itself into a ball, but it does so on its own timetable. Generally at dawn, or just before. With this, as with so many things, the trick is to wait, with my hands empty, and with all distractions put aside. So if that is, in fact, what I want, as I so often say -- well, there's how to do it. No secrets there: it's pretty obvious.

In the meantime, I follow the Wordsworthian life of accumulation, willy nilly. I don't believe in it but I don't know what else to do. Another day goes by, another four Spanish words learned, another eighteen pages read. Even when you don't want to harm anyone, you don't particularly appreciate being so obviously harmless. "Anodyne" is the tag I would spray paint on an urban wall, if I were to do such a thing, which of course I wouldn't. 

And this, I suppose, is simply my version of the pathetic lament of the middle aged white guy, indoctrinated to be a soldier but unwilling to shoot or be shot. So I reread my military history, fiddle with my toy soldiers, train for combats I fully intend to avoid: a wearying business, really. Housework is a better return on investment. A clean sink may not be the sun over Austerlitz, but it does at least shine.

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