Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Discourse on Method, not Madness

I am training for a marathon. Last night, after a nine mile run, as I was reclining in the steamroom, cleansing my senses, inhaling that soothing Sibylline mixture of mold spores and eucalyptus aerosols my gym specializes in, I was approached by a naked philosopher, in florescent yellow flip-flops, curious about how I developed my tight narrative technique. An answer will be forthcoming.

Before it arrives, however, I hope it will be noted, italicized, bolded in blood and underlined in black, that I normally reject the random requests I receive my fans at the gymnasium.  I take no risks. I am the scrupulous steward of an uncommonly high standard of appearance in all matters of public virtue. Like Julius Caesar, I am a Republican. I try to take my responsibilities to you, dear reader, and to my Art, very seriously. True as that may be, it must also be confessed, unfortunately, with respect to the temptations of talk, that all men are of mortal—if not mathematically equal—temper. Especially poets.

No matter how fortified we may consider ourselves to be against the seductions of discourse, no one is entirely proof against them. We must remember, when the mind is flooded with endorphins, or flushed with an excess of wine, or desire, even the Saintly—such as myself—may succumb and say, "Hello." We are all sinners. We need look no further than the philosopher Plato for verification of this sad fact. Confronted by a young Athenian engorged with curiosity, we may see the elderly thinker, Socrates, our prim Patron of Propriety, reduced to a babbling brook of imbecilities. And we may weep for him.

Yes, we certainly may weep. Indeed, we do weep—we all weep—we shed whole Pacifics some nights—but not for very long. Who has time for tears these days? Our grief is not Greek, after all. We will get over it. That is why we invented Band-Aids decorated with bunnies.

We are a goofy and giddy race.

I believe it should be abundantly clear from the brevity of the preceding paragraph that I bend over to no man in the pursuit of Truth. Or Wit. In case it isn't, let me reiterate: I will have no truck with false prophets, no matter how sexy in size or spiritual endowment. 

For the religous reader, of course, I may make exceptions. I am not without a heart, when it comes to emotions, you know, or a head. I am a friend to animals everywhere, of every stripe. Some of them are tigers. Some are zebras. Some are slugs. Some of them are my best friends—so you had better watch it. E-mail me a photo and your exact measurements and I will see if I have a cage for you in my mental menagerie.

[To continue.] Candor forces to me confess that, after nine miles of treadmilling, the very last thing on planet Earth I wish to do is trifle with a curious Twink. I greeted the inquisitive eye of this naked question mark [?] with a sigh and a circumambient survey of the Cosmos, which seemed to take in everything in the Universe except for him, his nihilistic nether regions, and those ridiculous florescent flip-flops. 

As a refuge from the temptation to talk, I assume, when it finally came to rest, my gaze alighted on a piece of plumbing ideal for meditation and pregnant with poetic potential: the leaky shower head suspended from the ceiling in the corner.

Undeterred by my chilly dismissal of his existence, out of the corner of my eye, I descried our persistent you friend remove his towel from his waist, and begin folding the sodden article into a two-layered square.  He sat down in a puddle next to me on the bench below—another student expecting a Symposium on literature, I imagined, and preparing to take notes. The hideous atmosphere of dramatic tension engendered by this action—the simple act of sitting down—made me feel very English (in the Masterpiece Theater sense), very Thackeray, very lost. Very nervous. Very old.

Drip, drip, drip, went the leak.

We sat there, one bench removed from each other, a short space, the distance fact differs from fiction for what seemed like an Eternity. I twiddled my thumbs—I was all thumbs—silently sweating. I was not in the mood. I studied the patterns of steam rushing from the vent, the tiles, the bottle of eucalyptus spray, the door. A grey glob of abandoned newsprint on the floor uttered the ominous syllable: “Ob—.” The haze grew denser. Hell grew hotter. I had come in here to relax. I found myself breathing heavily—harder than I had panted when I began running mile nine.  The air thickened. I was becoming deranged. The drip, drip, drip of the shower head echoed in my head, grew louder, dislocating the very senses I had repaired privately to this room to stick back into their proper sockets.

Why was my heart racing? Was I dehydrated, I wondered? I can’t see anything anymore, only shadows, I thought. What does he want? Perhaps I was wrong.  He seemed kind of friendly for a psychopath: he kept smiling.  I suppose most of them do. I panicked. Although there was light, the fog in this dank little room made me feel more claustrophobic than that spooky cave in India I visited with Dr. Aziz and Mr. Forster.


My Life was already circling the drain, when—


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