Sunday, March 12, 2017

From The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

n. a state of exhaustion inspired by an act of senseless violence, which forces you to revise your image of what can happen in this world—mending the fences of your expectations, weeding out invasive truths, cultivating the perennial good that’s buried under the surface—before propping yourself up in the middle of it like an old scarecrow, who’s bursting at the seams but powerless to do anything but stand there and watch.

(This is an apt descriptor of of I've felt since this past November when I knew that the Constitution and everything good I believed could happen were going to be eviscerated before my eyes.)

Then there's this, which I'm pretty certain I've written about before:


n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it—whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness—which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.

(There are events from earlier in my life that I used to want to tell people about, and tried unsuccessfully with the odd friend or lover, or odd lover, one or two very odd, but the compulsion waned with their reactions which were never aligned with what I think I wanted them to be.  I don't know what reactions I wanted. Maybe it was an explanation I was looking for, something that would make it all make sense. Having discontinued these attempts at finding reason, the events tend to ebb away into the 'other.'  Sometimes it's difficult to discern them from stories I've heard from other people, or read in novels.  It's curious though how people go blank when you use the term "profound violence."  You can see their heads trying to wrap around the words like a fajita shell around their own conceptions of what profound violence might be, and all the while you're trying to explain exactly what it is in your case, but they're lost and can't hear you.)

And finally:


n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye—which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.

(And beyond photography to writing even this entry tonight, or speaking even.  Telling a story.  Why not a vow of silence?  What could be more crashingly dull than repeating someone else's rendition of someone else's retelling of someone else's story? How many generations is it already from the original?)

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