Subsumption

Now I’ve done it. I’ve been drifting off to sleep far earlier than usual in these last few weeks, often unable to put up “the good fight” to stay awake for the movies my wife and I watch in the evenings—it took us three nights to get through a great Korean documentary about shamans (its title is translated as “Between”) because I kept dozing off.

But the benefit is to rise alone in the blue gloom before the sun comes up, a thing I often did at Hampshire, entering into a kind of naturalist (even shamanist) frenzy when the sun finally peaked over the edge of the world and flung itself through my window like a splash of gold. Here in this room I eat breakfast, drink coffee and water, and read Dante’s Purgatorio, and though I wasn’t so interested in that text when I began, and felt myself strongly tempted to approach any of the other fifty books I have in this library—surely the best English library in Busan, or certainly the most tasteful!—and devour them after the great patience of consuming medieval Italian allegories for the last two weeks, but coffee and water and early mornings combine to inspire me more thoroughly than anything else I know of; words are life. Dante writes of three stars at night setting the twilit mountain of Purgatory aflame, changes my mind, and makes me regret writing earlier in the book that Nietzsche quote infamous among High School students discovering alternatives to the dullness of their curriculum—“In Heaven all the interesting people are missing”, and, so I thought, in Purgatory, too.

I began by saying now I’ve done it because now I have to get ready to go to work, and when I arrive I have to spend most of this energy on standing around in that perennial classroom full of screaming children with an ineffective Korean teacher who lost her voice last week and was almost totally useless even when she had the ability to speak. Some of the energy survives into the afternoon, but so many images and lives and thoughts are surely lost by having to subsume myself in this fashion. The music and the walk to school gets my blood flowing; makes the artistic ecstasy, the demiurgical urge, even stronger by the time I get to “work”.

I hope I’ll have my mornings to myself when I finish this contract, but for now the vastness of the gardens I might tend is unimaginable.

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