The bony prominence

Standard

there’s a body on the railings/that i can’t identify/and i’d like to reassure you but/i’m not that kind of guy” –robyn hitchcock & the egyptians, “raymond chandler evening”

The gaze of the besotted: “You could talk, and I could simply… stare.” And the response of the sensei-like object, quietly bearing witness to repeated patterns and burned one too many times: Soften this with caution. After all, on Friday, all the animals behaved strangely. Deer and cats all racing up and down hills and into hiding with swiftness that suggested they were all being chased by some invisible predator. Birds were flying in strange, almost panicked, patterns. Should this signal that we take cover, adopt caution as the mantra, or that we should live with reckless abandon?

“What does a yellow light mean?”
“Slow down.”
“Whaaat …. does …… a yel-llllllow……light… mean?”

In the simmer of the slow, thoughts on the theme of training or re-training (the self) resurface. I wondered, after reaching middle age, having spent most of the first half of my life alone (the adult part), whether it is possible to train yourself to – and can you – be around another person – that is, all the time? Not just a dinner date or a weekend together in the Algarve. But really be together. All the evidence I see around me says no. And all the case studies of people who have toughed it out for 20, 30 or even, like my parents, 43 years (actually more than that, but 43 years of marriage as of this past suntanned Friday full of wild and domestic animals run amok), indicate that it’s more misery than mirth.

Having lived without sharing space or time, can you shift the routine and way of thinking to accommodate another – can you even become desirous of spending life’s second half (or some part of it) with someone else? Or is the temptation of liberal and free abandon too great? I wonder sometimes if this form of isolating oneself is actually a form of alienation, which Erich Fromm touched upon:

“Modern man is alienated from himself, from his fellow men, and from nature. He has been transformed into a commodity, experiences his life forces as an investment which must bring him the maximum profit obtainable under existing market conditions. Human relations are essentially those of alienated automatons, each basing his security on staying close to the herd, and not being different in thought, feeling or action. While everybody tries to be as close as possible to the rest, everybody remains utterly alone, pervaded by the deep sense of insecurity, anxiety and guilt which always results when human separateness cannot be overcome. Our civilization offers many palliatives which help people to be consciously unaware of this aloneness.” (from The Art of Loving)

On the other hand, Calvino offers:

“And Polo said: ‘The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it’.” (from Invisible Cities)

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