Gunboat Diplomacy

How long it’s been since I’ve written you! I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to neglect you, and actually a week ago I tried pumping out a paragraph or two on the thoughts of a North Korean guard I saw with my own eyes, but, as the story goes (or as I told it to a friend), I couldn’t drink very deeply from that stream of consciousness—beyond rabid boredom or rage at the sight of yet another jumble of foreigners—and gave up. It was something like one of my favorite short stories of Borges, Averroes’ Search, which annihilates itself two times over (once poetically and once philosophically), except my work was gobbled up by the mind’s invisible flames before anyone else could actually read it.

I don’t even remember what I was going to write here. It began a moment ago in the warm lamplight of my little room in Busan, where I, distracted with loneliness, began glancing through the poetry of Cavafy for some kind of solace. Ithaka has encouraged me to remain in motion before, and Ionic, which I just saw for the first time, I thought so exquisite that I wanted to write it down in my notebook. But before I could do that I had to report the situation, the state of the environment, you know, and that outpouring brought me here—why keep it private? Why not share?

I’m not surrounded by the terrible silence that comes sometimes after I stop talking with my friends on the other side of the world; through the window comes the windy sound of cars, a television murmurs in the ceiling, a bass beat climbs and falls. Nonetheless, night’s the time for company, and so many of the ones I miss are fast asleep.

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