Thursday, April 16, 2009

Narrative Truth

Writing, what I do, here, is just communication. It's all storytelling. What bees do: I dance because there's nectar over there. What birds do: I sing because I want to mate with you. What humans do: I speak because I want to be understood. It comes from a need around which we are built.

This blog tells a number of stories. The stuff about politics, increasingly rare nowadays, is about justice and common sense. The stuff about science is about truth and reality. The personal stuff is about trying to become whole. I use a number of voices to tell these tales, postures and attitudes that matter the way key matters in music, major and minor and somewhere along the scale, melody unaltered by mood, but affected. It's part of the art, and it might as well be arbitrary.

The personal stuff is generational. The past, fathers and sons, and the emotional present, and the uncertain future. We handle it, when it's horrible, as if it were in boxes, by dissociating. This isn't me. That didn't happen. There is a cost to feeling nothing, but the benefit is that we can continue as we are.

I don't think of myself as a very generous guy. You of course should argue with me, since I've given you so very very much, but you'd be missing my point. I don't give gifts, and that's gauche. Sorry. Buy your own damn ties. But I don't see it in terms of social graces. When I see a need that I can help fill, I fill it. Someone would benefit from a book -- I give them the book. Giving books is a sort of imposition, of taste and upon time, but I'm thoughtless that way. But if someone has a hard situation, I see what I can do. It's not gifts. It's friendship. Is there a debt incurred? Only the responsibility that one friend feels for another. It's never because of the thing; it's because of the motive. The people who care about us buy something from us with that emotion. Call it loyalty. And tenderness.

I looked to see if you emailed me today. My box was empty.

What ever happened to Joey? I'm getting ready to tell that story. I'm going to do it as fiction. He's going to end up dead. Sorry. But maybe he really is dead. How would you know? How would I?

Jason said, once, in the aftermath, "At least I got Joey away from you." That was confusing to me. He had an agenda? Yes, it seems. "Why would you want to get Joey away from me?" I asked. He did not answer. "Get something on Jack," his mother had told him, and sent him back to my home. I don't even remember how I learned that. A lawyer, probably. "You don't deserve this," Jason said, later. He had a conscience after all. No courage though. Neither do I, anymore.

One of the times Joey left me -- the last time -- in a bureaucratic turmoil ... how can I say this ... one of his caseworkers told me she'd asked him if he wanted to see me. "No." "Ah," I said, "that's good. Let him move on. It's never been about me." Then she said she hadn't known whether or not she should tell me. She was right to. It was a sort of relief. I understood it completely, and I don't need to be needed. I need to help people move past need.

And if several years later Joey overdosed on some unlawful drug and died while weekend home visiting with his crackwhore mother, how would I know about it? These things don't make the news, and I've been in hiding, so no official channel is open to me in such matters.

And if I happened one day to see someone getting into a red Volkswagen Rabbit convertible, and if on a whim I took it into my head for some reason to follow that car to a very large and shabby apartment complex, with skewed and ill-lit hallways, and I chanced to learn somehow the particular apartment she entered, well, what of it? Do you have knowledge of anything in my past that would make you suspect I was capable of great and brutal violence? I do not carry a baseball bat in my car. My hands are large and very strong, but the cold sagging skin of a drug addict's scrawny neck holds no interest to me. No investigation would find my skin cells underneath anyone else's fingernails. And I would never work violence against a woman. So what are you thinking?

All of this is fiction, of course. Fiction is the truth we tell with lies. Writing this, I feel nothing.



s said...

Your commentaries on Genesis are fascinating. Would like to read The Serpent in Babel. How does the invitation thing work?


Jack H said...

Greetings Steve --

That is a good question. I'd have to hunt up the disks. I wrote a lot of these things on 80s programs, and they don't upgrade very well, at least at my level of computer competence. Endnotes and graphs are always a problem.

That being said, I have three chapters of S/B already downloaded. The first chapter is here -- never actually put on line before, but I'd saved it as a draft.

The second chapter is posted as "The Heavens Declare"

The final chapter is up, as "Rebuilding the Tower"

There were either five or seven chapters. I'll look into looking into looking for them.