Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quantum Convulsions

The sloth of my writing life is apparently cyclical, corresponding to the arrival in my perpetually unlocked mailbox of Harpers and Atlantic Monthly magazines. They tend to arrive together in an overwhelming embarrassment of reading riches. And they never fail to inspire me. Not every article, no, but usually at least one that has me rapt and joyous (the dryly hilarious "Findings"* in Harpers or depressed (the amazing writing power of Edward Hoagland, in his current essay, "Curtain Calls*) in a good way -- the way that the colorful universe of books in Barnes & Noble makes me want to write, too, and also stops me dead in my literary tracks.

* From "Findings" this month: Australian researchers were trying to solve the problem of humans outliving their eyes; scientists found that brownsnout spookfish grow mirrors to reflect light into the retinas. Gu Gu, a panda in China, bit his third human... Physicists looking for gravitational waves may have discovered instead the noise of space-time breaking down into individuals grains; these quantum convulsions, said one physicist, would confirm the theory that the universe is a blurry holographic projection of a distand two-dimensional plane. .. Coca-Cola is not an efective spermicide."

And Hoagland's essay made me envision my own inevitable "twilight years" and death in a strangely comforting pastoral and amoral (in the best sense) way. His writing is alive with metaphor and simile: "Believing in life, I believe in death as well, and at seventy-six look forward to my immersion in the other plane of the see-saw also."

He has little patience for regret: "Memories, thank goodness -- not omissions -- make me wistful... As for the graph of my behavior zigzagging behind me through my places of residence like a snail's faintly luminescent trail, arrogant, dunderheaded embarrassments do prickle some of my memories, but no indelibly shameful acts."

In other news, my brother the professor joined Facebook. And a Friday night with A. drinking wine at Cercle Rouge and later Oscar included the horror of a sloppy-drunk possibly retarded and dubiously groomed stranger fingering my iPhone at the bar. Note to self: carry anti-bacterial wipes in purse at all times.

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