Incomplete Notes on the Morning and Evening of 9/28/09

These are typicalities.

In the gray morning I steal a rare moment of sensuality and sit on my bed, who cares?, and fold one leg over the other and rub the curve of my foot with a rough thumb, scratching at the sole with fingers like tarantula legs, stretching out the toes. My hand crushes the aching bones, and body overcomes mind.

A moment later I’m descending the steep alley while my eyes rise up to follow the apartment buildings, whose segmented tops are lost in the dim mist. Repetitive thoughts inevitably enter my mind, I can’t believe I’m in South Korea, what am I doing here?, this is the other side of the world, it is not this side, while the gonging of Wagner in my ears fills me with a force of inspiration, a confidence that I can create, even though without the guiding hand of history I am largely lost, a repetition, a parrot without a plot, as expressed by one of Borges’ epigraphs, from a certain Bacon—

Solomon saith, There is no new thing upon the earth. So that as Plato had an imagination, That all knowledge was but remembrance; so Solomon giveth his sentence, That all novelty is but oblivion.

Last night I thought the same thing while sitting under the rain-spattered windshield of a taxi, watching the red light dye and glow in the beads blinking on the glass. This dullness of repetition and stagnation of thought sometimes gives way to a feeling that I have never been here before, that the universe built itself yesterday (a thought stolen from Russell, whom I have not really read at all), and that each morning is completely new, as when I passed a man in Sasang squatting on a damp sidewalk while reading a newspaper, and strode over a black puddle with an indescribable shape; I tuck my head inside books if only to converse with someone far more different, eloquent, and imaginative, than myself or anyone I know.

The subway is more packed than ever, and I’m actually shoved into the crowd by the door closing behind me. These heads and bodies sway with the swaying of the train as if swaying with the sway of the tide, each curving wave under the guidance of the moon; the next subway is not air conditioned for some reason, so the thick heat and the odor of bodies forces the sweat out of my tired skin. A globule, Herrick’s liquid pearl of morning dew, quivers in a nest of eyelashes as I concern myself with the gossip and scandals of Bourbon Restoration Paris, thanks to Mr. Balzac, whose force of will I would love to possess. Among the heads of black hair there are eyes flicking over my face.

Now sitting in darkness with my epic friend Richard Wagner I have less than seven minutes until three hours of class begin; I will batter my way through it as always, emerge exhausted as always, and then hide in a little alcove to commune with the minds of the past.

(the kids were pleasant, though I was sick with cough; that ‘dark communion’ was a success—the River Meander is my model, as are its Protean gods made of surging water)

The most terrifying line in this book review is here: “I figure that I have spent more than 50,000 hours in this room and wonder aloud if the products of those hours — from a first novel brought to an end because I couldn’t bear to revise it anymore, to the voice-over narration for a television program about golf — have configured themselves into a single repellent mass.” The italics ensure that I will have nightmares for a week.

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