Saturday, December 26, 2009

“But something happens to everyone”

It is after we get a little bit bigger and stop playing with LEGOS and building blocks that we accept as a fact that you can’t build a house out of doors and windows. Such a house is an absurdity! Even the least little hovel, even a tent with a mere flap for a door, should have an enclosed space beyond that flap; the whole point of the flap or door is to lead into the enclosed space. The whole point of a window is to break the monotonous grip of a room, its fist around you. But the room doesn’t exist for the window! That would be carrying the revolution too far.

And yet, even though this is the wisdom we absorb as surely as the hair starts to sprout on various parts of our bodies after we are children, still, when we start building an article, a story, a poem, a thesis, a dissertation, a novel, etc., how often do we find that the rule of doors and houses is damn difficult to follow. Indeed, there is a certain type of critic since Aristotle which likes to judge the house exclusively by the back door – does it open out onto good fortune and a marriage? Or does it open onto suicide, the daughter hanging by the rope in the tomb, the self-blinded, exiled king? Yes, that back door, the gentlemen of the press – and the producers in Hollywood – tend to hang around it.

As for me – oh, I’ve written for decades now. I’ve written since I was sixteen. True, the juvenilia is long trashed; the writing of the 80s is mostly lost, as is that of most of the nineties – my breadcrumbs, in which I had Hansel’s confidence that I could follow them back to all the projects I left behind me, have been eaten by indifference, lost boxes, weather, moves, and broken computers. Oh the world’s indifference – and my own! And yet, when I gather up the work that’s left, that I can get my hands on, what does it amount to?
Doors and windows.
In the writer’s world, this is the thing that drives one to suicide. Oh, besides the contingent things – sickness, poverty, a broken heart, the dimming of one’s wits. But I am speaking of suicide from vocational reasons – or perhaps I should say, suicide from within a vocation. Despair is what happens when one understands, fully, that the door is for the house, and the window is for the room – and yet one feels all too intensely the boredom of the room, of putting up the walls, of the work of kitchens and bedrooms. Yes, even if it is a burrow, the tedium of this jigsawed, continuous space.

That space can make me sick. And soon, very soon, after I embark upon a project, I have to fight the urge to put in another door or window. Glorious ingress, glorious egress, glorious panes of glass.
Yes, to punch out a space for a window that is high enough, commandingly high, so that I can jump out of it into the arms of a cremating eternity.


northanger said...

the amazing windows song!

northanger said...

classical windows (there's hiphop too if you look)

Roger Gathmann said...

You're killin' me, North!

northanger said...

DJ Titon

northanger said...

The Beta Band - The House Song (srsly, not too bad)

Ray Davis said...

OK, a glass house on a bluff might not be considered seismically sound. But with views like this who cares about the investment value?

Roger Gathmann said...

I'm building my glass house on the edge of the abyss!