Friday, March 14, 2008

"Give up youthful passion, Make friends with death."

A marble composition book lies open on my desk. This is my journal. Page 5587, dating back to 1988. The handwriting varies, season to season, day to day, but is more often tight and small--two written lines per space--two pages a day for most of this time, well over a million words. But in recent months entries have fallen off. I carry the current volume everywhere--or used to. I wrote on the el, waiting for the bus, in bars late at night. There were years when I filled the margins with sketches, caricatures, doodles.

Not anymore.

I had a dream a week or so ago. One of those dreams that follow you through the day, that nag at your heals like a tune you can't stop humming. The sort of dream that won't give you peace until you give it time, time enough to get a sense of where it came from. I wanted to write this in my journal--but I can't. I have the words in mind. I've run them through my head before drifting into sleep. Rehearsed the lines, revised and edited in my head. But I can't. I can't do it.

The journals are not a literary effort. Something apart from my poetry, my fiction. I don't pretend to make them into "literature." And yet they serve a purpose to that end. Like a blotter, they absorb the leakage of my life--and leave me free to move beyond it in my other writing.

I understand why. Why I can't make these entries. The dream was a realization--an end to a certain fantasy, a hope, that was the subject of these journals for most of the last ten years. Personal matters. A loss, a deep personal loss...

give up youthful passions, make friends with death...

and yet, strangely enough, it's not in my life, but in these blank pages that I most feel the loss... as though, all along--in all my life... when I courted love, it was never for love's sake, but only for the words that love set loose.

What in old age is left--but to court loss itself as Love? The Poetics of Renunciation... Amor Fati!

You have been a sham forever... laugh, and embrace it! Our inauthenticity--the one thing that distinguishes us from our fellow beasts. It's in our denial that we are driven to violence, a mad and futile passion to eliminate a truth we are not prepared to face.

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