Friday, February 06, 2015

The comfort of the Book

I just saw that I had twice alluded to the transition from a Spiderman series to a Justice League one within the space of a few weeks, which marks a new low in terms of me repeating myself.  Ah well. The ravages of age.

Now I will return to another theme I've touched upon recently, though from a different angle: I find that I am at my best when I have a book to which I return at the end of the day that I am really into, which pulls me along.  And why is that?  Precisely because the book gives me a comfortable story within which to ensconce myself, to protect myself of the uncertainty of the broader narrative of my life:  will I get that account?  Will the kids do well in life?  How long will I live?  Etc. The radical contingency of all that is unnerving.

So everybody's got their narrative fix that comforts them.  Sitcoms, TV crime shows, movies, pop songs, comedies and tragedies on stage, they all ultimately resolve in a way that is expected and comforting.  Except, of course, the ones that don't.  And I've written elsewhere about how I've gravitated over time towards happy endings because the unhappy ones upon which the most arch of avant-garde literatures focus so much of their energy do, in fact, mess with my head.

People who really have religion and/or are deeply embedded and invested in particular ideologies probably need fewer narrative prostheses because, after all, they feel they know how the big picture is going to end.  Alternately, one could say that the obsessively perseverate over the same stories (the Gospels, Socialist Realism, etc.) as a way of keeping other narratives out.

But of course this blog is quite the opposite of a well-constructed book.  It is instead something like a running Talmud on my life.

I was about to bring up the point Robert Belknap of Columbia once made about the piece-bien-faite, but then thought to see if I had mentioned it before.  Of course I had.  Not once, but thrice.

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