May 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

– On the 188, the Proustian tang of ice-cream flavour lollipops; a memory of how disgusting they were. And yet he’s sure he must have eaten them more than once: why? The papier-mache taste of a childhood chewing anything that was thrust at him.

– The comforting thought that the worst, most compromised, most degraded things about himself, wh/ he forces himself to deal w/, are not – contra the confessional-memoir genre – necessarily the truest.

– The memory of talking w/ her, at the point he was certain things had gone irredeemably pear-shaped, about Benjamin’s Berliner Chronik. He stands by one of these things, not the other.

– Listening to Rolf Julius, the thought that becoming adults consists of our exile from the kind of time this describes.

– He wrote her a postcard, forgot to sign it. Of course she doesn’t recognise his handwriting.

– The reassurance that it gets better/easier; the smallest of all comforts.

– His serial inability to participate in joking, jesting, joshing, companionable teasing, practical jokes w/out a puritan frown. His serial habit of lying.

– It seems to him sometimes his whole adult life, his whole work, has been one long process of experience acquiring afterwardsness.

– Emily Cooke’s essay on loneliness, writing, women’s experience (interesting, in part, for being closer to a blogpost in its inconclusiveness): “Solitude is a problem for writers generally, who spend so much time alone rehearsing a form of ideal communication. And men —as a practical matter — are often worse at being alone than women.” What is the phrase “as a practical matter” supposed to mean? That we’re basically children who need constant reassurance & hand-holding in order to get anything done? (This is of course the secret hiding in most ‘great man’ biographies of Big Male Writers, from Ruskin to Martin Amis. But then it can only be so true, otherwise Roth & Updike would have written far less than they have.) That we willingly spend more time in other people’s company than women? (Given the history of male awkwardness he knows too well, this seems unlikely.) That women are condemned under patriarchy to social competition, forcing them to become more autonomous? (Well, yes, but that seems like an overreading.) The history of his own solitary dorkery begs to differ.

– “comfortable, but not too comfortable”. Yes, he wishes for that too.

– “tell me, o galley-slaves who moil,

from graves and charnel-houses torn,

whose house ye hope to fill? what corn

will crown your long mysterious toil […]

’twill be our fate at last, perhaps,


in lands of loneliness complete,

to dig some rocky counterscarp,

pushing a heavy spade and sharp

beneath our naked bleeding feet”


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