23. This is not about something; it is the thing.

You are faintly indignant at the superhero image. You offer an alternative: you wouldn’t crash through the hotel window in a superhero suit, but enter through the door with a pass key and cross over to the armchair where V. threw his clothes. Just as he begins shouting for you to get out, you’d pick up his clothes, regard them with an air of amusement, turn around to allow him to finish yelling, and then you’d unbutton your jacket to show him a Saville Row label stitched over the inside pocket. “Shaddap,” you’d say.  “This is what I call a tailor-made suit. What’s that stuff you wear?”  And then you’d walk over to the bed, grab his ear lobe, pull him out from under the sheets, stuff his rolled-up clothes in his arms while he’s wincing in pain, and, still pinching his ear, you’d lead him slowly but firmly out the door.

We now speak to each other on the phone nearly every day now; what you don’t see is that I am smiling throughout. All I want to do is laugh with you, laugh at everything: your mother; the neurological details of transsexual orgasm; the Swiss; the way you gallantly beat up on all my old boyfriends, in retrospect, to teach them a lesson; the scientific demystification of déjà vu as an anomaly of the memory apparatus; literary fans; the French; the size of my feet. I have drawn you into my book, which is not quite like dropping a live creature into a bubbling pot, but is sticky nonetheless, would scare any sensible person away. Yet you play along; you’ve pulled up the chair opposite mine and laid your elbows on the table and we’ve settled down into a very serious match of—what can we call it? Ludic love? Who was it that wrote of Huizinga’s Homo ludens that play is similar to aesthetics in that it is essentially irreducible? This is not about something; it is the thing.

I return to the work at hand, my English translations of the German writer Rainald Goetz, fragments that address the limitations of language: “The mission of writing is to walk away from it. To lead a life, namely in the best way and as rich in everything as possible, one that breaks open the isolationism inherent in writing, debunks it, makes it impossible, but at the same time retains it in the stillness of the texts as a longing for a true life, a better life, thus inducing one to move in this direction over and over again. The experiment ‘to live and to write’ is meant as an absurd, lifelong attempt with an ongoing succession of texts to remain subjected to both, to maintain one’s attention to both and not let oneself be torn between these conflicting powers.”

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