The Longest Now


Stories from within
Sunday June 01st 2003, 3:38 am
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Many elements of life are best conveyed from the inside out.  Great literature is all about an author taking a perspective from inside a significant life experience, and making it accessible to the reader by describing it cleanly, without fuss. 



what it is like to be suddenly homeless, or to live without a home but without homelessness — trusting in the generosity of others, or being supported by the world [like the travelling sages and monks in the eastern hemisphere, or perhaps even like Brother Blue]; what it is like to be suicidal, shamed into suicide, or filled with ennui and unable to value life as an ultimate good; …


People often mistake the importance of describing things from within the crucible of experience for the need to have experienced something firsthand before one can describe it.  It is possible to capture perfectly something a friend or neighbor is experiencing, and similarly possible to be tonguetied and incoherent about something one has experienced firsthand in another time or state of mind.  It is even possible to be unable to describe what it’s like within one’s own shoes at the very moment something is taking place.  Happens all the time, really.


Just as most distressing experiences can be catalysts for great developments, launching pads for future success and happiness, and occasions for learning as profound and useful as any happy happenstance, so most every state of being and environment is a catalyst for the perfect description of one or another facet of the universal common experience of Life.  Yet writing about what has come before or what is to come after; about what one does not know, or wishes one knew, or once knew but now sees in a clear, distant light; about what idols and teachers and predecessors wrote about; about what one wishes to read — writing about these things instead of about those facets of life which at that moment can be most perfectly described — these are the most frequent attempts of writers young and old, novice and expert, unknown and reknowned. 


How often do writers travel to research a new project, attempting through active creative effort to duplicate in fiction, fictionalized observation, linearized history, or logical analysis the perfection of form, balance of motive, and  coordination of intention and serendipity which occurs naturally in the most common elements of their daily lives and encounters!  Certain poets and artistic spirits get it just right; certain writers manage to simply let go and become conduits for that which they grok at a particular moment.  Journals and unembellished, unorganized observations have this clarity of channelled reality.  Certain autobiographies manage to capture and distill this…


What stories are sitting all around me, captured in my sporadic journals, snapshots, bright images of personalities and situations and emotion, in the lives I see most clearly in my friends, roommates, family?  Let me list what I can, in no order whatsoever:


   In those around me:  paranoia, self-pity, anger, inexplicable ennui, fear of failure and embarrassment, joy in avoiding big questions, focus on the unimportant, rapture in dance/cooking, in mathematics, allowing the trivial to stall the necessary, decrying virtues, shouting the necessity of vices, mistaking others, mistaking self, arrogant boldness in speech, sense of worthlessness in self-image, confidence in progress/provision of resources, nostalgia for family, projected love of children, projected distaste for children, projected health developments
   In myself:  frustration, longing for efficiency, alinguistic yearning for communication, fickle meditation, disorienting simultanaeity, targetless affection, distracting perfectionism, ignoring aspects of ambivalent advice, gravitation towards cusps, action in concerted unseen surges, fight club truths, quantum switches in observation


There is always more.


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