Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Losing the people and things that we have is something that we all have inevitably have to cope with. This isn't really a fear of mine, but it's a fear of a lot of well-meaning people, and it sets up what I'm about to say.

So I've been doing really well at a lot of things lately. Exceptionally well. And at a lot of things that I've been bad at pretty much my whole life. And, as a consequence of this, I've made a lot of friends. An extraordinary amount of friends, really. Wonderful, right? Well,  it's a little more complicated than that.

Because each and every one of these friends represents a series of imperfections and not-knowings and emotional consequences that we all experience but none of us really want to talk about. And (mostly because none of us really want to risk talking about anything serious), most of these friendships have stayed that way. What's worse is that they're probably right. What I mean by this is being serious and sentimental and worn-down in a way that's painfully transparent. Nobody really likes it when I act this way. Don't get me wrong, the silly and smiley and playfully nostalgic and sardonic me is a good important piece of my self. But I just again and again find it to be true that the parts about you that other people like and the parts about you that you think are most important are almost never same.

A great example of this is that my favorite humorist is Franz Kafka. I could try and explain, but David Foster Wallace is a much better wordsmith than me. I'll let him take care of this:

“It's not that students don't "get" Kafka's humor but that we've taught them to see humor as something you get -- the same way we've taught them that a self is something you just have. No wonder they cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke -- that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home. It's hard to put into words up at the blackboard, believe me. You can tell them that maybe it's good they don't "get" Kafka. You can ask them to imagine his art as a kind of door. To envision us readers coming up and pounding on this door, pounding and pounding, not just wanting admission but needing it, we don't know what it is but we can feel it, this total desperation to enter, pounding and pushing and kicking, etc. That, finally, the door opens...and it opens outward: we've been inside what we wanted all along. Das ist komisch.”

This is my favorite joke. Because it's not distracting. It's not an escapist mechanism. It's engagement lies in the central struggle that we all take part in but don't really feel comfortable talking about. Kafka did, though. Kafka went there. He told the jokes that nobody else had the nerve to.

So I guess what I mean when I say all this is that I fear not really being able to ever connect in the transcendent, ethereal way that seems so commonplace in dream theory. And that this connecting really isn't up to me. It's not because of mistakes that I've made, or risks that I'm not willing to take.

As Klosterman so eloquently revealed about his experiences with meeting fellow travelers, "Whenever I meet dynamic, nonretarded Americans, I notice that they all seem to share a single unifying characteristic: the inability to experience the kind of mind-blowing, transcendent romantic relationship they perceive to be a normal part of living."

So I guess what I fear most is being a dynamic, nonretarded American. Or maybe I just fear what the flip-side of this nonretarted condition implies, too. And not necessarily just because of the implications that being non-pretentious bring. But because of that ceiling that we hit. That ceiling we all hit as humans with our ability to feel and experience and communicate and observe and relate. Especially on that day by the river.

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