“We imagine infirmity and sickness to be deprivations of being and therefore evil. However, if death is as real as life, and if therefore everything is being, all states, even pathological ones, are positive in their own way. ‘Negativized being’ is entitled to occupy a whole place within the system, since it is the only conceivable means of a transition between two ‘full’ states.”
– Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Raw and the Cooked
Who’d have ever thought I’d come to value the goddamn sky more than anything else? My friend Mike says he’s always wanted to write a novel without any characters, just weather. I wish I could speak sky. (That’s how old I’ve gotten.) The only things I want to follow or understand any more are the signs in the cloud formations – and I know they aren’t really there. It seems that something must be being said by the nonstop monologue of it, as if it were Times Square,
the turning news, breaking news. It’s so confident, large-scale, beautiful, crisp… resolute – … So beautifully sealed off from mind.
So much about life is half, partial, failed. For instance, 1) love and “love-making” – what the hell are you going to make of it, do with it? There’s no way to talk about what it really is, because words are about capture, about choice and isolation, whereas if anything it is we who are spoken by sex and “love.” It’s just impossible to straighten out. For instance, 2) the way we are all crazy and alone. Sit around with some “clinically” crazy people for a while: it truly is a continuum and a circle and at any given time of day the big hand may be pointing directly at you. At times like these every cheerful feeling seems like a self-delusion. That one’s human life is just adulterated, misshapen, badly packaged death – that life is just death telling a lie. That if you want the truth you must have yourself die.
I’ve been depressed before, I’ve felt baffled and turned around by life and my “fate,” but never has this particular way of looking at it occurred to me until now: that life is a kind of typo in death. And the scary thing is that I perceived it in a sudden insight: it was a revelation, a kind of “Oh, I get it – ,” not some corny intellectual formulation. It was like catching your dad with the poison bottle and suddenly realizing why you’ve been sick for so long.
I was at this AA meeting for people diagnosed with psychiatric as well as drug/alcohol problems. Double Trouble they called it. AA meetings have names. Most people there were taking drugs, but they were prescription drugs: anti-psychotics, drugs for bi-polar (manic/depressive) disorder, drugs to counter seizures… It was a pretty heavily-dosed crowd, but nothing that looked like a lot of fun to use. I’m not diagnosed with a mental disability, but I’m a “recovering” drug addict and I was going to this meeting once a week because I liked it. The people in that room had bad problems, but, 1) they seemed to be managing – the ones who’d made it to there had stories with happy endings, at least for the time being, and, 2) there was a minimum of trivial self-pity – even if someone went on about everyday bullshit, you couldn’t blame them, you knew they had a lot to contend with. Plus, it was good because nobody would be expecting anything of me – nobody there expected much of anybody else there. Though everybody was friendly.
I bet you can see it coming. Why even tell you about it? Why go into the details? Imagine listening to these people talking, the few of them that took the opportunity to talk.