Love Calls Us to the Things of This WorldThe eyes open to a cry of pulleys,And spirited from sleep, the astounded soulHangs for a moment bodiless and simpleAs false dawn.Outside the open windowThe morning air is all awash with angels.Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.Now they are rising together in calm swellsOf halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wearWith the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;Now they are flying in place, conveyingThe terrible speed of their omnipresence, movingAnd staying like white water; and now of a suddenThey swoon down into so rapt a quietThat nobody seems to be there.The soul shrinksFrom all that it is about to remember,From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,And cries,“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steamAnd clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”Yet, as the sun acknowledgesWith a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,The soul descends once more in bitter loveTo accept the waking body, saying nowIn a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,“Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floatingOf dark habits,keeping their difficult balance.”
On an Aimee Mann listening kick. It has been years since I paid attention. I think when I first moved to Oslo almost ten years ago, Mann had released a new album, and I swallowed it whole. And then nothing. She recently released a new album, Mental Illness, which is quite good, but the final track, “Poor Judge” is superlative.
But I’ve gone deep into the back catalog:
Heavens… such memories, both of listening so intently and relating to Mann’s clever, cutting lyrics and then seeing Mann live with Naomi oh so many years ago. Some other life, really.
If you really pay attention to Mann’s lyrics, you actually can get a little mini-therapy session, I think. A glimpse into how things go. But we don’t listen.
Just as we never can take even our own advice when the rational side of ourselves tells us what to do. If such a thing exists.
Many people, even those I barely know, with many different problems, ranging from nymphomania to fear of death, from existential maladies to relationship woes (infidelities, parental lack of communication, getting dumped, etc.), keep turning to me to discuss these issues. Some in a therapeutic way and some in a misguided bid to send me into some kind of (mental?) overdrive. But all I can come back with is the question, again and again, “What is it you want to achieve?”
“My parent isn’t coming to visit this year and didn’t bother telling me. Should I confront?”
“That depends. What do you want to achieve?”
“I want to fuck every person I see. Is there something wrong with me?”
“That depends. What do you want to achieve?”
“My latest boyfriend, who was also my lawyer/contractor/plumber/boss, dumped me. Should I just give up on dating?”
“First of all, don’t date your —- (anything that you rely on). Second of all, that depends. What do you want to achieve?”
There will also be some curious reader who will see all these descriptions/scenes and imagine that everything applies to them. But no, not everything is, “Me! Me! Me!” and the world does not revolve around you. But still I’d ask the same question: “What do you want to achieve (by imagining everything is about you)?”
You can keep talking, exploring, finding out what you want to achieve through your actions – or letting what you want to achieve dictate what course of action you choose to take.
But the questioning will grow wearisome. (I guess that’s why people ask me; it’s wearisome to ask oneself endlessly without a wall to throw the ideas against.)
It all brings to mind once more the words of Pessoa:
“What men wanted and didn’t achieve, what they killed in order to achieve, and all that souls have secretly been – all of this filled the feeling soul with which I walked to the seashore. What lovers found strange in those they love, what the wife never revealed to her husband, what the mother imagines about the son she didn’t have, what only had form in a smile or opportunity, in a time that wasn’t the right time or in an emotion that was missing – all of this went to the seashore with me and with me returned, and the waves grandly churned their music that made me live it all in a sleep.” -from The Book of Disquiet
“There are times when everything wearies us, including what we would normally find restful. Wearisome things weary us by definition, restful things by the wearying thought of procuring them. There are dejections of the soul more subdued than any kind of anxiety or pain; I believe they’re known only by those who elude human pains and anxieties and are sufficiently diplomatic with themselves to avoid even tedium.” -from The Book of Disquiet