imaginationland

Tired and irresponsible, plain not thinking. What is all this now? I love to think, but I hate to love anymore, yes, anymore I hate to love so I guess I’m lucky it’s all just my imagination. That’s it, really—little more than a sensation, a sensationation, a silly byproduct of certain synapses and stimuli and cell structures and structural functions and all kinds of other shit I don’t understand or care to, commanding and strange nonetheless, like a pre-ahistoric creature of the heart’s aphotic zones (been waiting to use that word), like it is for all of us, even me. Bring it into the light and see what happens. Well at least I took out the trash today. One real thing taken care of, thoughtlessly.

Just my imagination, my imagination running, idling, then running away again, and there I am sipping brown ales from clear bottles on the terrace outside my tiny little third-floor dormitory room in Cambridge, facing east, the spires of King’s rising gothic above the treeline, watching the back end of the last traces of a late summer above being replaced by night, smelling the nocturnal approach, classy and composed, wearing just the right amount of scent, and I was sure about love. Wrote it down: SURE ABOUT LOVE, or something like that.

Sure and tormented, awestruck and at a frantic kind of despondent peace, engulfed and so completely perplexed and the stars were beginning to shine and several of them shot across the firmament and I thought about her, thought about me, thought what’s she thinking about, and why so many shooting stars tonight? The dim light above the sink was on in the room behind me, just enough, like a candle without the life and flicker, and I wondered how the fuck I’d ever get out of and back to and recovered. Eventually I’d have to, I thought, I’d have to go back, my skin positively crawling with eventually, though recovery was probably as much imagined as the magic underlying those (in)glorious circumstances of its necessitation. Because it wasn’t real. It existed, of course the sky and the stars and the bottle and the she existed, but the It wasn’t real, not beyond its moment and its me.

Real love is something else. It’s love of the creak in the wood floor in front of a wall where Van Gogh hangs because it’s as if the room has registered your presence and said hello holy shit can you believe this in what for a moment you thought only your eyes beheld; love of a page-long sentence in Proust because somewhere in there he says things like romance is “delicious vagueness, rich in expected surprises” and you know that to be true; love of Cioran’s magnificent pessimisms because he, on the other hand, says things somehow even truer, things like “shame on the man who dies escorted to his grave by the miserable hopes that have kept him alive.”[1]

And then there’s the love of she and her pixie-woman mannerisms—the way she turns, instinct-attentive and quickly curious, to ask what? with eyes alight when she didn’t hear you but wished she had; love of having nothing left to lose; love of sleep’s borderland when usual observation ceases and the lines between this and that are so blurry that this can seem that and that this without even a hint of doubt or consequence; love of being caught somewhere in the rain and remembering you don’t care; love of a big wave in warm waters that lifts you off your feet and sends you hurtling up the shore; love of a look or a touch or a sound or a breeze that does the same; love of being in love with being in love with the moment, the thing, the thought, the It.

Lispector described this, I think. She described a lot of things, or most of the important ones, and those probably at least twice apiece. She said

The organ fell silent with the same suddenness with which it had begun, like a flash of inspiration. I kept breathing quietly, my body still vibrating to the last sounds remaining in the air in a warm, translucent drone. And the movement was so perfect that I neither feared nor gave thanks for anything and I was not drawn into the idea of God. I want to die now, cried something inside me freed, more than suffering. Any instant following that one would be lower and emptier. I wanted to rise and only death like an end would give me the peak without the decline.[2]

That is love, loving to feel, to think, freed, more than suffering, knowing it can only be followed by the perfection of death or the mess of decline. And that is precisely what I mean. What else is there, really, what else besides? How do you recover from that exquisite psychosomatosis? You don’t. You just hope the music starts again—and soon, because it’s a long way down and there are sharks and shit down there.

Or you find it again, looking a little too hard for ardor for the sake of feeling for the sake of thinking for the sake of not falling, because feeling and thinking are the ontological bases of being—remaining—alive. Or so it seems. Or so you’re told it seems. Or so you tell yourself it is because you need to believe in more than seems and you’ll let your imagination look for almost any damn thing (almost any damn where in almost any damn one) to get through the complete and utter and absolute and perfect ridiculousness of what’s actually really real, feeling, thinking, even loving what’s not there just because you imagine it could be.

And so the peak, that earlier peak, the shooting star night across the pond with the brown beer in clear bottles and thoughts of her was a moment of more than seems, a moment and a person my imagination gladly ran away with, starved as it was for inspiration, drunk as it was on… well…. Until the bottles wore off and the stars stood still and it all fell out into the light of real as Eventually came marching out to meet me in the morning sun.

Do you get my drift? I do—no, I don’t mean I get it, just that I drift. What I’m saying is it’s not real, but it all exists, has existed. I’ll tell you what’s real, though. What’s real is the real fact that she out back over there wanted to flip her life upside down over me like a glass jar, just as others have wanted since, capturing me and my imagination and its in-love-ness with those flash moments, watching me like a tiny figure in a makeshift snow globe, scrabbling to the peak of some myth-mountain, much to their great and amorously beguiled amusement. All because I heard Clarice’s organ music and it made my heart run amok like a bull in a bookstore or a bunch of candy in a china shop, giving its two cents in their sandy pockets because those cents were worth more than a trunk of gold under a bird dropping dimes in glass bushes. That’s the kind of crazy near-nonsense exaggerated thought-language thing that gets them and makes them want to get me globe-wise and shake me up and see, and it only makes sense if you don’t think about it, only if you imagine.

And it’s happening again—it’s always happening, the higher I rise and want to. So I ask: What would be the smart thing to do before another jar comes down and it gets too real? Tell me, silent friend. Well, you’d say, wisely, why don’t you do something real yourself, first, before they can or do. Stop thinking about it and waiting for it and do something real and see how the moment feels then. 

Turn on the lights. Start simple. Call your grandmother. And do your taxes. And clean your apartment. And get your car washed. And make a doctor’s appointment (and show up for it). And quit your job. And let her go, let them all go. And remember. And take a trip. And don’t come back. And find another terrace and another night and other stars and another she, perhaps, a real she. And write all this down, keep writing it all, writing and writing and writing and climbing—toward real peaks, really imagined. Climb up there on that big, stupid, inanimately living mountain of real—not to escape, not to jump like a nearsighted fool making a medieval reach for slippery stars but to get up there and look back down and remember that there’s a difference, a huge, sometimes dangerous difference, between loving to imagine and imagining love, and that the only way to safely navigate the rocky shoals and siren songs in between without the jar coming down to trap you is to quit playing the game and fucking live it, change it, keep real closer, and see Eventually now, and keep imagination well-fed with inspiration without rising too high too fast toward the unwritten could be. And write it, again, write it, how many times do I have to tell you, write it. Write to slow it down and take a good long look. Write to keep your distance. Write it all down and write it out and live it through the sense made of what It is, moment to flashing moment.

Fine, I will. But let me do the dishes first.

 

[1] Emil Cioran, The Temptation to Exist, p173. And also this: “When I spend days and days among texts concerned with nothing but serenity, contemplation, and ascesis, I am filled with a longing to rush out into the street and break the skull of the first person I meet.” From The New Gods, p114.

[2] Clarice Lispector, Near to the Wild Heart, trans. Alison Entrekin, p63. Can you see what she’s been doing to me?

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