Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Checking in after checking out

I celebrated my two year anniversary (and they said it wouldn't last!) with Katie last week by going up to Vermont. It was lovely and fun and boring in all the right proportions, so that we were really happy to be hanging out, just the two of us, and had a great, relaxing time, and then were really glad to get back to the familiar environs of Brooklyn.

One thing I discovered, and I never thought I would say this, is that I think I've had enough of driving for a while. I can't say what changed, but the guy that was really into driving hundreds of miles when Katie and I met on that children's theater tour seems to have had his fill. I came back from the trip exhausted, enervated, and just sort of ready to walk places for a while. That was a week ago, and I feel like I'm just starting to recover.

Since my return I've been working on the novel, which I basically took apart and started over. The structure is profoundly different - to the better, I believe. I'm considering posting a sample chapter up here as it gets closer to finish. Anybody reading this? Feel free to voice your approval. Or disapproval. Or profound indifference.

The Brooklyn Book Festival was this weekend, and I got to meet an author I've been corresponding with on Twitter named J.R. Angelella. He wrote a book called Zombie which I highly recommend. It's pretty grim, and has fewer actual zombies in it than the title might suggest (i.e. none), but it's well written, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it. On a personal note, he's been super encouraging of my writing, and I'd like everybody who reads this (you, especially. Yes, you.) to check out his work.

My currently reading project is The Essential Jung which I've owned for literally 15 years and never cracked, carrying it around with me from place to place. Well, I'm almost through it now, and I'll say this: I'm glad I'm reading it now, rather than when I was younger and expecting every goddamn book I read to somehow solve my life. It's interesting, complicated, dense, deep, and well-written, but I don't feel like it's really life-changing. This is a good thing. I'm a lot calmer now than I have been in a number of years. Maybe ever, and so there is a self, a boundaried I-ness that allows me to reflect on what I read and decide what I may eventually take in. Previously, any given book would be absorbed whole, and then, maybe, assimilated into a world view and behaviors. This was, you can imagine, rather destabilizing. So now I can read and enjoy and absorb without the ache of trying to fill some void inside me (hint: not possible, at least not with words, books, other people's world-views, drugs, sex, relationships, food, projects, art, beauty, poetry, magick, religion, or any of the million other ways that I've tried).

Regardless, I think it will inform a lot of my upcoming reading, which includes finally getting through The Golden Bough and Jaynes The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Don't worry, there's some fiction in there, too, including some more Murakami, and Brautigan. So there's that. Hope you're well.


  1. Please do post a sample chapter! Have you said what it's about yet?

    I tried to read the Golden Bough book a few years ago and got bogged down halfway through. Interesting though. We've got 1Q84 from the library right now-- I might give it a shot.

    I remember when you were looking for every book to solve your life!

  2. Hi Tim! You can't see, but I'm smiling. I know I hear from you on Facebook all the time, but seeing somebody you like in a different context is a nice surprise.

    I will post a chapter soon! I did mention (back last year, I think) what it was about, but I don't mind talking about it, because it's fun. It's about Brooklyn, and gentrification, and the effect of geography and immigration on the face of a city, but really, it's about wizards trying to stop a demonic development company from sucking all the magic out of the city and taking over the world.

    The Golden Bough is a real slog, but I've got a nice condensed version of it, and I'm looking forward to it, if for no other reason than to wipe clean the guilty feeling I get every time I look at it on the shelf.

    1Q84 was the first fiction by Murakami I finished. I had tried The Windup Bird Chronicle a few years back, and abandoned it pretty quickly. His style seemed dry and meandering to me. Then, just recently, I read his What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and it clicked for me. I guess I had to learn how to read him. Now, he's one of my favorites.

    Yeah, that time of me looking to books to solve my life ended not too long ago. Just a few years, really. There's something a little sad about losing that all-consuming compulsion, but, since it was, you know, not working, and super unhealthy to boot, it's overall a good thing. Maybe I can just swim in books, instead of trying to drown myself all the time.