Just cause

Last night I dreamed that I had the most wonderful idea for a blogpost, and this morning no amount of coffee can bring it back. Black, black coffee; grey clouds; the wind came along last night and blew my neatly piled mail into a total chaos, a tempest of notifications and receipts. Demons, tricksters, loosening my tenuous grip on organization. I blame the rain. How can one fight it? One dark, humid, drippy day after another.

I am posting this in revenge against the rain, partly suggested by darkness (the sunless week past), partly just because it’s beautiful:

I experience alternately two nights, one good, the other bad. To express this, I borrow a mystical distinction: estar a oscuras (to be in the dark) can occur without there being any blame to attach, since I am deprived of the light of causes and effects; estar en tinieblas (to be in the shadows: tenebrae) happens to me when I am blinded by attachment to things and the disorder which emanates from that condition.

Most often I am in the very darkness of my desire; I know not what it wants, good itself is an evil to me, everything resounds, I live between blows, my head ringing: estoy en tinieblas. But sometimes, too, it is another Night: alone, in a posture of meditation, I think about the other, as the other is; I suspend any interpretation; I enter into the night of non-meaning; desire continues to vibrate, but there is nothing I want to grasp; this is the Night of non-profit, of subtle, invisible expenditure: estoy a oscuras: I am here, sitting simply and calmly in the dark interior of love.

X confides: “The first time; he lit a candle in a little Italian church. He was surprised by the flame’s beauty, and the action seemed less absurd. Why henceforth deprive himself of the pleasure of creating a light? So he began again, attaching to this delicate gesture (tilting the new candle toward the one already lit, gently rubbing their wicks, taking pleausre when the fire ‘took,’ filling his eyes with that intimate yet brilliant light) ever vaguer vows which were to include–for fear of choosing–‘everything which fails in the world.'”

–Roland Barthes

In an unrelated development, apparently we are now to seek tranquility in our dish soap:

I laughed in the aisle of the Duane Reade… The image of a tranquil dishwasher, therapized by Palmolive, smiling idiotically; smelling, scouring and scrubbing. Though the drugstore is supposedly a place one goes for health and personal care, why do I feel so often that everyone in there is up to no good? Other Manhattanites might understand my desire to re-write Dante’s Purgatory, placing most of the action inside a Duane Reade; the new location on 94th Street is suggestively cavernous, looping, illogical; one has to penetrate beyond cellular service, into the bowels of the building, in order to get the simplest things (soap, paper towels); the staff seem surly guardians of a dubious salvation; I myself often feel an urge to call a friend (some temporary Virgil) to help me “get through” my visit, to explain my path back out…

You’ll notice I’m in no mood to address the new Beethoven manuscript.

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  1. Sarah Louise
    Posted October 14, 2005 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Rain rain go away–it has in Pittsburgh, so my hope is that it will for you in Manhattan. Were you crushed that Ricky Martin was cancelled on the Today show?

  2. flacke@post.harvard.edu
    Posted October 14, 2005 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I laughed – well, snickered – over and over again this past summer at a boat that I saw on Fire Island, inscribed with its name Tranquility!, complete with insistent exclamation point.

  3. Jim Online
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I usually have a pen and paper next to me for when I have a good idea. Hah

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