Thursday, October 27, 2011

the myth of always taking yourself with you

finding your true self? d.h. lawrence would never agree. 'which self, i am many selves?' perfectly true, within limits. as i've stated many times before, only brain damage does our present personality in. otherwise, we tend to lope along at the same speed, especially without the intervention of fate.

everyday i get a new inspiration. i'll go back to kyoto, berlin, mexico city, and after a few peeks at travel books over coffee, i'm almost instantly disinclined. guess it's like the love mafia: once you've been disillusioned you can't overlook the pimples, bad-breath, scuffed shoes. passion now impossible in this situation.

the same with cities and countries. india spoiled me for india and russia for russia. in sri lanka i stumbled on an incredible ceremony worshiping a tree: candles, incense, singing. the next day i returned to find ashes and silence. so, when i romanticize berlin, i forget the gaffitti. in vancouver it was the claustrophobia and madness caused by the closed bay. even new york city has suffered a sea-change, the fountain of my youth.

and where i've lived for the past thirty years? that's a laugh. absolutely no romance. plenty of friends, but otherwise... i guess it's a matter of who wants to be trapped with a lover in the same town? cynical, but realistic, though reality certainly over-rated.

the palm ultimately goes to paris, the tattered cliche. i can't explain why it's worked. one morning in the 60's i did arrive on the train early, april stores opening, sidewalks being washed, the sun warm, the windows sparkling. perhaps that cast a glow. i met miriam on the plane. hand-patsy, one thing led to another, finally a hotel room with a window on notre dame. and toshiko, met in london, pursued to paris, kissed under the eiffel tower, a marriage proposal sent to japan politely refused, 'i didn't know you felt that way.'

people flirt in the subway. young ladies, gracious grand dames. you can actually talk with them.  now that i'm wrinkled and stooped, i wonder what kind of a reception i'd get? i'm cat-sitting next month for my friend Q as she flies to france. maybe she'll be able to tell me. at the very least, i won't look at guide books to paris tomorrow. i've been disappointed enough for one week. my paris self, where are you?

let's look again:

you will have to live with the pointless but powerful desire to create

as i was packing up to leave the lookout, a rather frail and thin fellow with a short, black beard spoke up from the bottom of the stairs. 'hi'. i told him the floor wet with mopping. he said, 'okay,' only he didn't go. he acted like we knew each other. who the hell?

i had planned to leave within the hour, felt impatient, yet invited him up. we stood waiting for the floor to dry. finally, i realized this the lookout who'd retired last year. we'd worked thirty years together and met but once. ah, the voice. no wonder i knew without knowing.

we got to talking. would he take his trailer south? he seemed in no hurry to leave, and i thought, 'this is very auspicious and remarkable. likely, we'd never meet again, he turning 75, me not far behind.' he pulled off the cap to his camera. i asked, 'have you gotten back to painting?' 'been thinking about it.' 'you could put your stuff on the web.' he paused and pondered. 'i can't think of why i'd want to do that.'

my god, i had a shock. doesn't everyone want their work known, to be known, to give pleasure? evidently, he created out of the urge to do so, no other reason necessary. i'd never met such a being, not in our world of celebrity and hype, not to mention my own maniacal urge to be invisible but recognized. maybe this was the message he had for me.

you don't need a reason, you're just stuck with this restlessness, get used to it. where have i said this before? i've always said everything, it led me to a dead-end and now all i can do is look at picture-books like a child. hmm,  let's ask the rabbi.