Sunday, March 25, 2012


Hello, my dear ones. Rollicking laughter has not been on the docket this week. Will indeed shoot for humor another week and soon.

Miss O’ has been feeling necessarily serious and thoughtful, and this is never to be enjoyed, but rather endured until the breakthrough comes. Have not had that breakthrough. Herewith some sources of her turn of mind.

Fragments from the Week in The Huffington Post

“I will kill you,” a student cries in a class on Evolution:

“Please Offend Me…”: Bill Maher on the culture of (in my view, often bullying, mean people) who cry, “I’m offended” when verbally challenged, who can’t just take it:

And a counterpoint/point on healthcare, showing how the health care industry will make its huge profits, regardless of laws or fairness:

On the Trayvon Martin shooting and the fallout of the arrogant gun culture mentality (the Old West taught 21 states and counting absolutely nothing):

Deryl Dedmon Pleads Guilty In Mississippi Hate Crime Hit-And-Run Of James Craig Anderson

And this on “football bounties,” the federal investigation into the NFL paying players to hurt star players on opposing teams:

Where does it end? It doesn’t. The past week has felt relentless. I can’t seem to write cohesively on all this, and rather than force it, I feel I need to let the fragments stand.

This week I’ve been reading Italo Calvino, “If on a winter’s night a traveler…”, a sentence from which says:  “Long novels written today are perhaps a contradiction: the dimension of time has been shattered, we cannot love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes off along its own trajectory and immediately disappears.”

Like gunfire.

Fragments. No context. Random lines I’ve heard around from strangers and friends and acquaintances confirm this—politically, personally. More and more people seem to live in unmoored, fragmented fantasies of their own making, and I suspect it’s because people no longer value the reading of fiction.  One can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy if one doesn’t read fantasy enough to compare it to something else, such as real life.

(Remember that man I tried to date a few posts back? He’s been pursuing Miss O’ relentlessly on email, so she allowed him over last evening, during which failed attempt at an encounter he confessed, “You aren’t attractive.” He was repulsed by her physical being, actually, and always has been. So what were all those emails? “Fantasy,” he said.)

Carolina Morning by  Edward Hopper, The Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC

"What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space." 
― Italo Calvino

For those of you in the crippling grips of the violent, the ignorant, and the cruel, may Miss O’ recommend Italo Calvino to you? And Jane Austen. And a good Terry Pratchett novel? Learn the difference between fact and fancy, cold reality and deepest wishes. Watch the first 8 seasons of The Simpsons. Have a little fun. Lighten up. Go deeper. See a movie. Go see The Hunger Games for me—because I know I can’t stomach it—because I suspect there is a truth about humans in it. A terrible truth.  We devour each other for sport.

“The things that the novel does not say are necessarily more numerous than those it does say and only a special halo around what is written can give the illusion that you are reading also what is not written.” 
― Italo Calvino

A colleague of mine traces this nation's loud, horrid swing back toward unchecked ignorance, hatred, and greed, this decline, back to the end of the Cold War in 1989: We didn’t have to pretend to be morally superior anymore, and sometimes in pretending to be better than we are, be really do become better than we are.

Possibly we need to get OUT more. Possibly we should not be reading at all. Possibly we should be engaging, talking, dancing, leaving the neighborhood more often.

“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.” 

Maybe I need to take a good, long walk, stare into the petals of pink magnolias in a city park.

I close this fragmented post with another fragment from Italo Calvino, from my favorite book of his (so far), Invisible Cities, which I read when I first moved to New York City. It was the perfect guidebook for learning to be here, and continues to guide me as I navigate the dark streets of my own unmapped invisible city:

“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”
― Italo CalvinoInvisible Cities

Love to all.

1 comment:

  1. I eventually enjoyed watching The Hunger Games the other night, although the brief exposition made it hard to accept the entire premise of the movie. "But it's Sci-Fi, you have to just go with it!" my husband pointed out. Well, I'll just say that The Fifth Element was easier to swallow and that actually was written by a 12-year old. In fairness, their depiction of children fighting other children to the death with blades, arrows, bombs and "biologically enhanced" poisonous wasps was handled somewhat delicately.