I guess now that it's been a month and a half I ought to write something. It won't be good, I promise you that, but I suppose that the future me would be curious to know what I'm feeling like tonight.
You probably know what's going on in my life already, right -- W and I moved down to our new city, into this fucking palatial house in a very fancy neighborhood; we've been here for over a month and still haven't really finished unpacking (right now that just seems like such a perfect sum-up of the way we live); I've been studying for the bar and, naturally, finding myself totally freaked out and feeling totally unprepared.
At the moment, W has been away for four days or so -- she went to spend time w/ her elderly father in Cape Cod, where he's staying by himself for a little while. She was called to duty after her brother dropped the guy off and realized how old he is and asked her to come up and keep an eye on him for a bit. So she's there. She's coming home tomorrow. Frankly, it sounds like she's having a horrible time. The old coot is a true son of a bitch. It's pretty amazing. I mean, the whole thing about him is that he's just an asshole, and everybody realizes it and acknowledges it, and yet he's quite charming at the same time. It's true. I have a whole lot of affection for him. I wonder if this is how my Mom felt about my father's mother? She was ornery -- that's the word that I think sums her up best -- and I think she was flat-out mean to my mother. And my mother doesn't have any illusions about that. But it's not uncommon for her to wax sort of nostalgic about her, and say things like, "I learned a lot from that woman." Anyway, W's up there, she keeps calling me and sending me texts saying things like, "when can I come home?" Of course, then there are these little snippets, glimpses of fun and pleasant feelings, and she'll report to me things like, "we had such a great time at dinner tonight!" And I know that that must have been one hell of a dinner. Anyway, she comes home tomorrow. I feel kind of bad that it looks like she's going to leave w/ a bad taste in her mouth. That's not good. I wish the guy could get him a fucking clue and just try to make it pleasant for her last night, so that she doesn't spend the next three months thinking he's an asshole.
Well anyway. Here's the deal with me right now: my studies have been all fucking consuming. No shit. And -- the sad part -- I really don't feel like I'm necessarily going to be prepared. Wow, that is truly sad. I think I'm working harder on this shit that anyone else I know, but
just got a call from W. Bemoaning her situation. Poor thing.
Anyway, I was saying that I'm working my shishkas off (made-up Yiddish word?) but I honestly don't think I have a handle on this. It is FUCKING NUTS. Wow. I mean. You know?
So the point is, I've been here alone in this giant house for a few days now -- and frankly I haven't been alone at all since W left her job in our old home town, which was, I don't know, 2 months ago now probably. No, that can't be right. Well, at least one month. Anyway. But the point is, today I actually finished my work at about seven thirty or something. (This is remarkable because most days I'm working 'till midnight or so.) Instead of boning up on some aspect of the law that I'm weak on (believe me there are quite a fucking few) I cracked a beer and poured some scotch. Three hours later I'm not exactly toasted but I'm feeling warm. I haven't been drinking nearly enough since we've been here. So here I am, Wednesday night, by myself, sitting in the dark (that's true -- I'm not just saying it because it's something you say when you talk about drinking alone in your giant house) listening to Niel Young's "On the Beach." DAMN that's a good album for this mood.
I got hit this afternoon with the old melancholy. It's so strange, because I mentioned this to W on the phone earlier today and I was compelled to say, "it's no big deal really, it's not like it's even unpleasant." Being melancholy -- generally considered a synonym for "sad" -- isn't unpleasant. But it's true. The old melancholy -- as opposed to truly feeling bad, which happens too -- is actually almost a good feeling. It's about wanting to be alone, have some drinks, and listen to some music. In the dark. (No shit.) But I think the real point is that... what the fuck, I have no idea what the real point is. It's about wanting to be alone, and feeling like the rest of the world just doesn't get it, and just doesn't have anything for you. But it's not bad, necessarily. I mean, everything in the outside world seems wrong when you think about it from this perspective, so that's bad. Sure, it's very bad. Like, I mean, there's nothing positive going on at all from this perspective -- everything is infected with hypocrisy and any attempt to do good is bound to fail. Yeah, that's bad. But the overriding feeling is that you have to find beauty or goodness somewhere else then. And that's what music and aesthetics and booze are for. And that I can do. I can really, really, really sit and listen to some music and hear something unbelievably beautiful, especially if I'm drinking. And I can look at something that's nice to my eyes and get pleasure from it. (I seem to want to avoid the word "art," not 100% sure why that is. I guess "art" can be so infected w/ hypocrisy and posturing too... but then so can music. I don't know... it's something about the word "art." Plus, and this might be more to the point, I include things like flowers, and reflections on the river, and the sky on a nice day, etc., etc., etc., in what I'm calling "aesthetics.") I mean, I can look at something mundane and ugly and stupid and find some beauty in it if I'm in this mood. I like unpacked houses and sitting in the dark at huge tables with no one else around when I'm in this mood. Isn't it weird?
Now, I'm not going to allow myself to go down the road that this next comment by all rights probably should take me down, but here's the comment: how fucking self-absorbed can I be? I don't think I need to elaborate much on that. Read the paragraph above this one, and I think it will make sense why I'd say that. And I think that I could go down that road, but it would just end in me truly feeling bad, to quote myself, and it would NOT end in me being any more productive or useful in this world. Certainly not tonight. So what's the point? Why not enjoy this old melancholy this evening? I can tackle the world and its hypocrisy and ugliness and debasedness and infection some other time. In fact, maybe I never will. I can try to work in small ways on making individual lives better. (Some other time, of course.) This feeling is all about how the hypocrisy and its attendants really can't be conquered.
I should stop writing, but I guess this is a glimpse of what it's like inside my head... it's not going to really stop when I stop writing... Anyway the thing I was going to say was that when I was in college -- and that's a really long time ago now (before the collapse of the Soviet Union, for the record) -- I was struck by a quote from Marx calling for "a radical critique of everything existing." Or something like that. That might be wrong, but if it is, I think it's probably better than whatever is right. The thing about it is that, everything existing is infected with everything that's wrong with this world. You can't get the stink out. And so to fix it you'd have to start afresh. In college, I was hit by this when my then-girlfriend talked negatively about someone who once gave her flowers. She thought it was gross and bad. My first reaction was, "damn, giving someone flowers is nice. Really nice." But then I understood her perspective -- it was just a part of a whole way of looking at the world that was bad. Or, it had become a part of that. It wasn't the flower-giver's fault, necessarily. It's just that giving flowers was part of, well, part of everything existing. So it was fucked up.
Okay. Here's the thing: I'd better stop writing. Because the more I write the more I sound like a college student. And like I say, I haven't been a college student since the collapse of the USSR. (Actually, that's wrong. But you get the point -- it's been a long time. It was acceptable to read Marx approvingly back then.) So, just to save myself from wanting to jump off a building when I read this tomorrow, I'd better stop.
ADDED LATER: according to Google, there's only one other guy on the web who's ever referenced this quote from Marx. Are we both wrong? It can't be that no one else thinks it's remarkable, can it?
ADDED STILL LATER: okay. Don't jump off a building when you read this, future me, but it seems that most people think the word that I'm translating as "radical" really means "ruthless." And lots of people are remarking on it, and it's even the title of an essay (For a Ruthless Critique of Everything Existing).