sunday post: in my jesus year as of yesterday
Oh my. What violent oscillations in attitude. I have no idea what’s going on and I’m trying as hard as I can not to think about it. My father called today and suggested that I could go to law school if it came to that. When I told him that I had absolutely no interest in that, he responded by suggesting an MBA.
Dear readers, I think I shall sort things out by raw force of will. I am quite something when I get focused, when all the chaff and static subsides. Watch as I double down, turn piss into lemonade, make some Jetzzeit in a selben Augenblick. Just in time delivery, with transcedence attached.
As on Friday and Saturday, I spent 14 hours in my office today. Yesterday was my birthday. Today I wrote 6000 words – that’s 20 double-spaced pages to you Americans. Mind you, 20 pages on things like Barthes’s “Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative,” Badiou, Osborne on Badiou, and Franco Moretti’s “Serious Century” from the first volume of his anthology on the novel. And 20 pages that absolutely have to work. So this was some day.
You should really read “Serious Century.” Sorry Jameson, but Moretti is the top dog of our bleak time, and the only one doing interesting work. I’m pretty sure Moretti’s 20 pp. are worth more than my 300 or so.
I am growing a beard. I think I may not shave for awhile. It makes me look serious and French but also adolescent, so fuck it. It’s also going to turn into an act of passive-aggression once the department returns after the weekend. Why is he growing that weird spotty beard? He’s having a nervous breakdown, isn’t he. He might be! So I refuse to shave.
My wife reminds me that I work best under deep threat, when the pressure is highest. It was a nice thing to say and she’s basically right. Neurosis and ambient anxiety recedes. The needle on the concentration meter shoots upward. And I work. I make things turn out OK. I take decades off of my life, but it’s OK. It’s what I like to do… Love to do.
Of course, this is an adaptation to the environment that we call capitalism. Both nature / nurture originated at once, I’m sure. Massive class change doesn’t come without pain and dysfunction, but neither does it arrive without… What? An adaptation to shitty modes of life, a love of them? A visceral fucking absolute adoration of modes of life that are ultimately deeply alienating? That steal the grape from the vine? That bring the crop to harvest before its time? That sort of thing?
The best piece I’ve ever written – and you’ve seen some fragments of it on here recently – was written with a kid on the way, no other prospects than to get this or that job. The piece of course was about precarity and X.
Pieces of my soul are on the pavement outside my office. Drop off as I smoke 2 cigarettes with each smoke break, along with the bits of my lungs that I cough up. I can see them from my office window – the soul bits, the lung bits. I smoke 50 cigarettes today. Ho hum.
I become almost unconscious when I am writing well. The thought almost stops – I don’t hear its steps as it clambers up the stairs of my mind and out through the fingers to the screen. Automatonic. One of the things that I understand and in understanding appreciate about modernism is the fact that it was in favor of this sort of development, the stop of conscious thought, and generally was in favor of it for the right reasons. Those reasons being that it, consciousness, is the most ambiguous gift of modernity.
It helps to listen to music while I write. I was wishing all day that BBC Radio 3 would stop with the Remembrace Day stuff, and modernist music makes me change the station. I hate Remembrance Day – it’s English draped in more mawkish kitsch than even usual. Fucking poppies! (Don’t tell her I told you this – but last year round this time IT got a little upset when I made fun of Remembrance Day! I kid you not – she told me that I don’t understand. Poppies! And ridiculous Anglican services through the afternoon on BBC Radio 3! And people standing up in pubs with their hands over their hearts because the queen is on tv! Queens! Poppies!)
I switched to some WNYC classical channel. The music wasn’t as good, but there was ni Dieu, ni nation on there. Go figure – when America does soft left liberalism, it damn well does it right! It made me afterall!
When I was a kid and still believed in a punishing god, I walked around concerned that I was going to go to hell. I was never sure – I certainly wasn’t perfect, but neither was I all that bad. Just somewhere in between. I wonder if part of what’s gone into the recent RC de-emphasising of purgatory doesn’t have something to do with this. Given the goals of the church, keeping the flock persistently uncertain about where they’re headed (no one’s a saint, not even the saints – but no one, not even the damned, is sure of the other bit either) is useful. When you think about it, purgatory would catch almost everyone.
Precarity is like that too. Somehow.
Back to work tomorrow. 14 hours again, I’m sure of it. My nightly beer ration has been increased, and I had a nice hotdog tonight at Finsbury Park on the way home, so it’s no big thing….