What happens when I avoid “required texts”…
Difficulties & Pronouncements
For this is what I do.
When facing difficulties, Harlan makes pronouncements. Conundrums = hypotheses. “Yes, I love you, consistently,” he might say, but does not think, for Harlan does not think, he behaves, that is, he acts habitually.
Sometimes I think I am a writer.
For instance, Harlan might be confused or confounded by the behavior of others, particularly those with whom he shares his life, interacts with daily, corresponds. He might find himself baffled, able to find no explanation or solution for a “problem” – (situation in which he does not know what to do) – and therefore announce that which he considers a “reality.” E.g. – when happening upon his children bickering and unable to agree on peaceable courses of action, he might state: “it is common for people to consider the ‘ways they do things’ as the “correct” ways TO DO things…but when such consideration involves more than one family, group or person, there is often conflict, i.e. – ‘what should be done?’” Thereby solving nothing, nor finding any resolution, only offering up his own feelings of helplessness as a catalyst.
He looks at her.
Sometimes I look at you.
Sometimes I think I am a writer.
For instance, Harlan might find himself bewildered by mixed emotions (a “difficulty” in his habit-of-being) and, instead of naming the mixed emotions and going from there, instead might pronounce – “humans are complex interfusions of emotion and reason, biology and philosophy/psychology – we aren’t yet quite sure what con-spires to activate and animate us.” Thereby solving nothing, nor finding any resolution, only offering up his own feelings of helplessness, his own uncertainties, as a potential catalyst to reason.
Reason is insufficient.
Harlan speaks to me about the insufficiency of reason: “Say, you know how we often try to make lists of what we ought or need to do? You know, IF we (perhaps) performed the following activities, accomplished the following feats, we might feel some sense of order in our lives, some sense that we were possessed of a direction, a purpose, a…modus operandi, and therefore felt that LIVING made a kind of SENSE?” I nodded. Sometimes I think I am a writer, and therefore listen carefully.
Anyway, plans are confusing because so regularly undone.
He looks at her. They gaze. I (also) look at you, but your eyes are closed. Still I look, and look again, and look more (at you, wistfully – imaginatively ‘into’ you) and just am looking. Harlan and Meribeth are actually looking AT, perhaps ‘toward’ or ‘con-spicuously’ WITH one another. I’m just borrowing, observing, wishing, and longing-for.
Harlan says – (there is difficulty) – “isn’t she beautiful?” (a sort of backwards pronouncement – he thinks, well, not ‘thinks,’ rather ‘feels’ [or whatever] she is beautiful) – often we respond out of habitus, instinct, notion – I keep looking at you, hoping I’m, well, wishing (sometimes believing) that I’m a writer, after a fashion, of sorts, perhaps or probably…
Harlan states the obvious obscurely when faced with problematics. Harlan is attracted to Meribeth, and Meribeth to Harlan, but such a combination of lives, of persons, of families, of children, of burdens and complexities = DIFFICULTY… and difficulty (for Harlan) stimulates the regurgitation of flimsy “absolutes” – or conventional, accepted “Truths” – therefore Harlan simply states – “I love her Nathan, god knows – or Whomever – or No one – that I desire and adore and wish for and ache in relation to that lady, Meribeth.” I know that, I say, being acute and observant, sometimes thinking I am a writer and therefore privileged to description and awareness.
The kids cry. The movie’s over and it’s far beyond ‘bedtime’ on the absolute clock of shoulds and woulds (for “good” parenting). Harlan says – “Brush ‘em and orchestrate [they don’t know that word, but clearly understand what it means, unlike machines or ‘predictive text’] yourselves for nighty-night!” Harlan looks at Meribeth – the sort-of ‘fun aunt’ or ‘older girl cousin’ or ‘delightful female guest’ the kids have been curious about this evening and attempted to entertain or woo or utilize to their own purposes THIS evening – with a kind of drunken swooning, a kind of animal desire, a kind of helpless confusion and bewilderment – and Meribeth looks back at him with a kind of “Am I all that? Am I really distinct, different, unique-in-the-world, exceptional?” look… and the kids begrudgingly and grumblingly rumble off toward the bathroom because Harlan’s voice has a certain gruff, man-like edge to it (a growling of a different sort of desire from authority – the older ones might tick it the ‘daddy-voice’). I notice all these things because I consider myself a ‘writer’ – a person attuned to the subtle realities of human-animalness, quirks of idiosyncratic behaviors – someone predisposed to inventing or discovering or collaging words from language into odd combinations of metaphors that might shake loose emotions related to the ways our particular species behaves (NOT thinks or reasons, or rather AND thinks and reasons) in this world – and Harlan exhibits clear, semi-drunk desire for Meribeth, and Meribeth mirrors a kind of dumb, flattered and pretend-complimentary bewilderment to Harlan’s aching want, and I jot scribbly notes into a little travel notebook with sketches of London on its cover, and people are confused and want each other [or SOMEone] and I chuckle at the ingenuity of children, and wonder at the difficulties and pronouncements that accompany the rest of us.
“It’s a boatshitload,” Harlan says.