More fiction

In a recent comment, Tim mentioned how much he’s been affected by fiction. I’m in the same boat, which is why my current disillusionment is rather surprising and a bit disturbing. I’ve been a reader all my life, with a particular taste for fiction. I absolutely believe that my moral compass was deeply affected by my reading (as well as John Lennon’s music, but that’s another story). Books like Tess of the D’Urbervilles, An American Tragedy, Madame Bovary, The Awakening, Nightwood, Anna Karenina, Middlemarch, Mrs. Dalloway, and of course, my true love, Ulysses, taught me about the aesthetics of writing, but more importantly, about the emotional lives of human beings. How else would I have known, growing up in the suburbs with stoical first generation parents hellbent on assimilation, about the inner lives of other people?

During and after college, I worked at bookstores for almost ten years (at a terrific independent bookstore in Harvard Square for a good number of those) and spent all my hours away from work reading and writing. Then off to grad school in New York, where I wrote and read some more. Honestly, I truly thought that the only thing more meaningful than life itself was a life devoted to reading and writing–to art. That was a core principle for me, a way I understood myself and the world.

So now, all of a sudden, there’s this sense of ennui. Of just not wanting to indulge. Almost like I’ve eaten too much. Except for Haruki Murakami. I am always eager to get my hands on his new books. But what’s the dealio? Not only am I off novels, I am feeling discombobulated politically. Yesterday on NPR, The Cop and I heard an interview with Ralph Reed, Andrew Sullivan and Dick Armey. I’ve always liked Andrew Sullivan and abhored Ralph Reed, but for goodness sake, there I was, AGREEING with Dick Armey’s assessment of the current political situation. Huh?!?

Perhaps too much meditation and sloughing off of the ego? Is that what’s making me seem less and less recognizable to myself? LOL! I say that kind of as a joke, but um, Dick Armey? He and Newt Gingrich are on the same side, for crying out loud! What is happening to me?!?!

Maybe it was the combination of indulgent liberals in the novel and a sensible-sounding Republican on the radio that threw me. Maybe it is some secret inner self revealing itself as my musculoskeletal system realigns. Or my ego dissolving. Who the heck knows? I have this panicky feeling like I need to hang on to what I recognize as the things I value, but then again…why bother?

Some Kiss We Want

There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of

spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At

night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its

face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language-door and

open the love window. The moon
won’t use the door, only the window.

-Rumi

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