The Honesty of the Person
——It is an act of contrition–I stand up from my desk, releasing my hands from captivity, from the shadow play that dances above the keyboard. It is an act of freedom, forcing a break from self-assigned work which, in fact, I have not yet settled into, this afternoon.
——Suddenly on my feet, I step over to look out the window of my office. I am like this haunted man–peering out, bleary eyed, at a scene below which is so familiar I think, “why didn’t I try to understand this before?”
——My second floor office, situated at the corner of the house, has windows that front the street and look out on a school with its playground right below me–this room in our house which I have turned into a cyclone of books–well!, this variously has been a prison, a refuge, a private den, even the hull of a spaceship, transfigured. In novels that I have constructed with great earnestness, and deep existential humor, I will come upon the scene of myself writing. Sure, I can walk up behind myself at work, be my own conscience, and amend the process while in the act. It’s hypostasis. It’s the honesty of the person. Less and less can one bear to write pseudo-objectively. He has no longer the taste for any gala set-up stuff, but he must loop around, every five minutes, and refer to the constant location. In the laboratory of every book, the quaint setting, the bold interface is reintroduced.
——So, below from where this hulking irresolution of a man is watching from his skylab, his perch (leave it at that)–the author who has has stood up from his computer and sidestepped to the window overlooking the playground–below him the scene is stirring–yes! Here are shouting and waving kids running around in every direction. It must be a recess, or school is out; it looks like a holiday out there, right below my window. The scene is contained within tall fences that border the school yard, and children of every variety are zig-zagging across the baseball diamond and the green fields. It is a world. It is unbelievably fascinating, I am like rocked into a desire to perceive this correctly.
——That is no way to put it! I never saw anything like it. Or to put it another way, it is totally familiar, and I am about to actually see it. It is tearing me up with its potent meaning, and yet I feel like I just got here, like in my thoughts. It is a tangle. It is like I have been staring out this window for a long time now, failing in the task of the impossible. Mentally adding to the important meanings which should go into the book, stripping down the focus of the book, even while the project of the book is falling apart in my sight. How is it that the desire for total awareness leads to the idea of saving what you see? Does the notion that it is precious precede the assessment? What is the threat of understanding!
——I’d say there are about five groups of these motley dressed, ungainly kids, dispersed all over the place–and yet, I see, no doubt organized in various chaotically proceeding games. I look to find one of the adults, say a distracted teacher supervising these kids, and I see a likely candidate, whom I immediately trust as a compatriot. Like he and I are in the same position here; supervisors. He is standing in the midst of a kind of self-imposed dream; he is calling back stray players, while drinking in the weather. Fancifully I build the drama! What kind of day is it out there, anyway, I ask. As if I could contribute to the weather. It is a mild day in April, nothing bidding resolution. It is the epitome of relaxing life. Well! As I spy and seriously scan this scene from my window, I also notice, hurrah!, that I am like that out-of-place kid in the baggy trousers, standing motionless on the sidelines. He is looking for a location in this strange reality, to become inconspicuous, I can tell. Then I lose sight of that pitiable target, and focus on some red-faced loping fellow, an eager runner who seems to have set himself his own challenge; he is practicing in a space apart, and is bursting with ideas, I can tell. I place my hopes in him. This is unbelievably exciting. I must have been away for a while, to have such pent up analogies to spare, to be so ready and . . . mystical!
——To fully observe, as I am, alone in my window, and now even to try to comprehend–this is not to eagerly play the games I am seeing, I realize. But this scene is colossal, symbolic, ancient, deeply sad–analogous to the mood of the free, forlorn witness.
——It is just I have so much time. I am the most idle person who ever lived. My writing takes no time at all, it exhausts me almost immediately, and then I have the whole rest of the day! Though I am intense. I’m a caged lion! I am in training, as if for another task; being a person is not quite enough–to make me full-fledged. I know I speak for alot of others . . . and in this aching self-portrait, too, really, I am like the teacher or the coach on the field, who is in charge of children. Children! The kids are on another track, obeying other stars. The superlative children come into life already prepared, in some odd way the ungainly adults cannot even see. They are looking for opportunities in a unique field of play . . . But with us, we are dragged down, the innate condition now must stew awhile, and it can manifest itself in various stories that bring in profound situations, if we can handle it, that look twelve ways. You are soaked, older than you actually are, and, counterpoised, you have a longing that seems like youth.
——Always at the edge of a miracle about which it is not the time to speak–even if you had the words, you come into the picture just in time, and for emergency use.
——You are pretty much a suave volunteer, or the guy who arrives on the scene of an accident and jumps out of his car, to be of quick and vital assistance. Though he is a question mark to himself, he is one the least confused–as it turns out. This gives him something to think about later, when he is sidelined and wondering. How be it so sincere, and ready to be of vital assistance, but only arriving at the last minute. How does that characterizes so many!
——Or no one ever knows he is there, at the party (so to speak), but amidst the general commotion he is the one whose ears are perked up at just the right minute. For silent rescue for which he asks for no thanks. His heart in the right place, invisible. He just keeps making up for others, and tries to usher them through what appears to be their simple expectations. That characterizes me! I get to think. I am building up a debt, like I could trade in time spent babysitting your fears, for a minute of revelation. I am holding up the building, by leaning against it! And my wisdom shall console you. I am the one about whom they say, “Who was that guy?” I sympathize, too, with the multitude of those who are humiliated and unknown. Alot of people know they are underappreciated, and that the very quality that caused them to be of vital assistance, dooms them to remain unnoticed. Most people get little thanks for their most essential place they occupy in life–yes, one could build such a theory. I used to notice alot how I wasn’t getting credit for my actually central role. Say in gatherings where others were so much at each other’s behest, or their throats!–indeed, and always needed . . . laughter, like salt. It is incredible how witty I am in a pinch, and adept at shifting circumstances. I am like a comet, coming around to repair, and gone before you saw it. It is easy, it only requires keeping track of what was said three transitions ago, and bandaging the hour with overt wordplay.
——The strings, I mean the causes, I mean the opportunity for silent martyrdom and irony are are rampant, of course. You wouldn’t have gotten this far if they weren’t.
——I am speaking for everybody now, elated, in light of their obscurity. Whisper to the next guy: you are facing a singular fate, buddy. Together, we’re each leading several parallel lives, intertwined, now unplugged from a number of them, for some lines are down, but zeroed in on at least a couple, and famous mostly where we cannot even go. I flourish unacknowledged as a saint somewhere, that’s the truth. I was the glue that held the whole scene together, when it was the kind of scene I most preferred, like as an intimate partner in dialogue, or provocateur. Rarely could I comprehend a crowd, when it was another playground, of course I stood at the margins, at the window and compared myself to one or another kid in motion, or standstill adult, in furious contemplation. Here now! This was only a break from my work, two steps away from the desk with the dancing computer screen –and it was becoming more work!– as I thought to phrase it.