leaving and staying and by staying leaving

Had to stop reading a (the?) biography of Clarice Lispector because, no matter how much I love her art and story, the formulaically-placed quotes and source material and objectifying lack of authorial voice gave me indigestion. Perhaps I’m academic-intolerant. So, out of some odd desperation, I started reading Njal’s Saga and got about sixty pages in before I wondered why the fuck anyone would read Njal’s Saga. I could’ve just read about it, which I did once, sort of, because Knausgaard mentioned it in an essay and made it sound smooth. He also said no one gives a shit about other people’s dreams, which therefore means telling another person about yours is a futile, selfish act, which I thought was intriguing given my card-carrying status as an escapist romantic. I’ve tried it, and he’s right.

Nevermind how I chanced upon a copy of Njal’s Saga—I have magical bookshelves onto which all manner of things tend to materialize; not long after I picked it up, I discovered telltale pencil marks in the margins and a few traces of graphite even extending horizontally beneath certain sentences and phrases as though some dull apparition had deigned to suggest portions of this epic tale of lineage and law were worth remembering verbatim. That was my pencil-marking phase, when I tried to get minimalistic with it after an undergraduate period of prolific ink underlining that rendered many a book un-rereadable. Thus did I discover that I my very own me myself had indeed more than read about this the “greatest” of the Icelandic sagas. I’d been there (and that) before.

I suppose this was a kind of intersectionality. Only academics could believe in (and seriously pontificate about) something like intersectionality, the purportedly stunning interplay of all their different identities and the challenges of determining which one rises to the top at any given moment and why. A single person is a New York dinner party roomful of individuals, all sipping mediocre red wine as they recount every navigational detail of the means of their arrival, peppering their íslendingasögur of trains and transfers with remarks about obscure restaurants along the way and the “interesting” cuisine one might find therein, narratives of various prosaic expeditions branching out ad infinitum. Who else could be so many people and use so much (many?) italics? Well, I could. And I was, am, do. Hence that copy of Njal and this cute little circumlocution, despite my creative dissociations.

Emancipation is a word, and it gets used. Do you recognize me anymore, Njal, Clarice? I am just a man, at times celebrating the freedom, at others lamenting the confinement, of my intersectionalities. The enlightened say we’re supposed to perceive the underlying harmony in all things and make decisions in accordance with it (the harmony), but most of the time we seem to misspell, misstep, misspeak, mixing up a sweet bright batch of lip-staining kool-aid that goes down easy and satisfying and that’s what I mean: sugar rush and stain and then the crash. Why not skip the superfluity and hop skip jump straight to harmony? And that’s how we get to where we are now, because that, no matter who I’ve been, has always been my question and my struggle—how to sip some harmony in multifariousness, to hum tunes of different timbres but the same familiar pitches that allow us to hear our funambulist-somnambulist selves through the bright red liquid of the moment, tasting savory-sweet selfhood in each little nibble of nonpareil.

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About mischa

I write things about stuff, and sometimes stuff about things. Depends on the day.