I am, by nature and various forms of training, agile in a way that if I bobble things, even in a way that would seem normal to most people, there is clearly some kind of problem. Periodically I wonder if this situation represents a substantial inefficiency. Like, maybe the focus I’m expending under normal circumstances could be used in a way where it’s keeping me from creating a structure that makes the reflexes less necessary.
Basically all I do for fun is bathe. I sort of think I’d get something out of leaving the apartment for leisure, but I am attempting to emerge from a period where I was beating myself up for not having a hobby that was personality-defining, so being casual about stuff like that makes me panic.
Whither leisure, the Joaquin Maguire story.
Well, after the dinner mentioned in the previous post and sleeping more in the last 24 hours or so than I have in months, I can tell you that indolence is 100% the key to happiness.
So I have, speaking broadly, a crippling problem with aimlessness. Last night I was sort of hoping that putting stuff up all the time might help with that, because I’d be narrating what was going on. The problem, of course, is that I can’t start that, because I’m too aimless, and then there’s a bunch of panicking and chicken-egg dysphasia-ing. What I did do today was make some marvelous fusion snacks.
A million years ago on a date that consisted of passing a bottle of wine back and forth in Prospect Park, my interlocutor said of her decision to come out, “Why do I need an excuse to hang out with a boy whose life is an open book in the internet?” Since then, everyone has started pretending that their life is an open book on the internet, but the whole thing has been sort of obfuscated and branded and is kind of horrible. Partly as a reaction to this decline, and partly because I think it is probably the only way that I’ll ever start writing here consistently, this is going to start including a lot of really boring diary stuff. Excelsior!
Given the states of both the world and my psyche, I thought I’d run through Homo Sacer again. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how it starts with a really abusive misunderstanding of Foucault. It’s like he read The History of Sexuality and D&P (worst translated name ever), and pretended that he hadn’t notice The Birth of the Clinic. At any rate, it was too much, and now I’m reading Borges short stories.
Made my semi-annual reading of “Some Motifs in Baudelaire” recently, and was compelled to wonder if I miss crowds. While in Paris over the summer, I noted that it was much more crowded than Portland, and at the time my feelings about that were pretty clear. A little quiet time with Walter, however, has made me wonder.
Portland is very nice, in its way, but I’ve never found it very compelling. I don’t want to go out and explore it very much. Obviously, it suits a lot of people. Perhaps the difference is that I’m the type who finds it refreshing to parry his own blows, as it were. It is certainly the case that I find it very comforting to go out into the world and not recognize anyone. I have often thought of myself as a bit agoraphobic, but perhaps the problem that keeps me indoors is more akin to paranoia.
So perhaps the solution is brunch at The Screen Door? The problem is that many crowded places have lousy crowds. Portlanders, accustomed to a certain amount of leeway, are lousy gatherers. I think it’s also worth nothing that while crowds were smooth in NY when I lived there in 98 and 99, but the time I went back for Draper, the sort of New York flow had been irreparably disrupted by the idea that New York was somewhere that everyone should go, rather than being a place for people whose temperament it suited.
In “Motifs” Benjamin frequently returns to how unlike the crowds of Paris are from the crowds of other cities. In the context of a discussion of Baudelaire, this takes the form of suggesting that at the time no other continental cities were as urbanized (and while London is discussed earlier, it doesn’t get compared at this point.) At any rate, while I did feel penned in over the summer, it is worth noting that Parisian crowds still know how to move quickly, efficiently, and safely (definitely feel more at risk from drivers here than I did there.)
I know, right? So what has been happening? Well, as mentioned elsewhere, it was my birthday recently and C and I travelled to San Francisco to celebrate it. While the most obvious addition to my life upon returning to the Northwest was an infected cat bite, there have also been some subtler changes.
Living in Portland and spending time with C, who is an inveterate cocktailer has dulled my palate for wine considerably. For a long time I was more or less okay with this (note that this is at least in part because said palate is still remarkably sophisticated), but after dinner at Absinthe, I’m reversing my course on this one. Cocktails are fine, but I am totally over drinking them with dinner. That shit is for savages.
We also spent a fair amount of time at SFMOMA one day, and The Palace of the Legion of Honor the next. Portland has a very nice art museum, of course, but it doesn’t have a lot of the high-modern stuff, the supremacy (Suprematy?) of which, unlike wine, is something C and I agree about vehemently. It’s nice that I always end up at SFMOMA with artists.
On the plane home I finally finished Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and returned to The Line of Beauty, which I had laid aside while ago, having not found myself particularly engaged. I think that something about the trip put me in the mood for the high Hollinghurst style, and I have been enjoying it immensely. Now that Amis has retired to xenophobic avuncularity, it may be the case that Hollinghurst is England’s best practicing author. Obviously that’s not the best novel of the second half of the century of the novel, but it’s not nothing either.
The upshot of all of this is that I think it’s time for me to return to snobbery. I am planning on going out less but bringing much more decadent things into the house. Time to get my damn culture back.
So I’ve been living a life of quiet desperation, as is the English way. Primarily this is because after something on the order of 7 years of service this long-standing artifact bit the dust.
I try not to be too worked up about objects, but I am already suffering profoundly facing the morning without it.