Sunday, May 23, 2010

This I Would

This I would have you know: you are the only one who can unfuck your life. You fucked it. You unfuck it.

I would also have you know this: you aren't the only one to ever fuck up your life. It would be remarkable if you hadn't. No, others before you have been as fucked as either of us. Some of them unfucked themselves. Some were train wrecks. They both left clues. It is part of being fucked to believe that you can use another man's formula/method to unfuck yourself. But that's cheating. On yourself. And that is part of what's fucked you in the first place.

UYL Rule #1 - You have to do your own push ups.

UYL Rule #2 - You have to learn from those who came before you.

UYL Rule #3 - Then you have to figure it out for yourself.

* * *

Listen:

"The light in this room is of a lamp. Its flame in the glass is of the dry, silent and famished delicateness of the latest lateness of the night, and of such ultimate, such holiness of silence and peace that all on earth and within extremest remembrance seems suspended upon it in perfection as upon reflective water: and I feel that if I can by utter quietness succeed in not disturbing this silence, in not so much as touching this plain of water, I can tell you anything within realm of God, whatsoever it may be, that I wish to tell you, and that what so ever it may be, you will not be able to help but understand it."

James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

* * *

I will never forget the first time I read that bit of Agee. I burst into tears sitting at the airport waiting to catch a flight to Seattle where I was headed for a job interview. He had managed to say 20 years before I was born, all I had ever held in my head. It is the entire reason for writing: to be understood. It is also to understand.

Agee was a fucked up dude: brilliant, drunk and dead too young. Yet the things he left behind - words only - bespeak of a restless and outraged intellect, a hungry desire to know and be known, a luxury with words that is without equal by my watch.

I can only copy and paste his words here. I cannot write them. They are not mine, though he gave them to me by putting them in a public space - a book. They exist outside of my command, yet I am pulled from my dolor and made to sit upright and take nourishment when I am in their company. My work, my words are my own. I can only be moved to action by his, for they do move me.

But perhaps not so much for you. Fine. You're a dickweed. But so what? What does move you? What rattles your bones? What once filled you with wonder or delight? The fucked life says there is no such thing, or that it is relegated to childhood. Don't believe it. You're fucked because you've dropped that thing that once filled you oh so joyously. You've lost who you are and settled on what you've become.

I read Agee, or Calvino, or Yeats, or any one of a hundred thousand hundred thousand others and I am reminded again and again to move, to be moved, to be restored to myself, to take up arms against the fucking I've laid on myself. Books, music, movies, cooking, whatever in the world that thing might be for you there are others who have been fucked just like you are now and they a left a record of their unfucking.

Find them. Pay attention, and then begin.

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