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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lifelike

Well, I must have my little jokes. It's a release valve. One of the primary functions of humor, after all. I laugh under pressure. My former wife hated me for that. It wasn't personal ... but then, our marriage wasn't very personal. Not in the sense of intimacy and understanding. I've never loved any other woman, though. I have never laughed at this particular irony. But I digress. I was going to say something about silent movies, Douglas Fairbanks pretending to be a hero, laughing fiercely as he fends off hoards of enemies -- something like that. It's not bad acting. It's how some people really are, and it's mistaken for heroism, and imitated by actors and children and such. I'm like that. I can assure you it's not heroism. No more than it's humor.

And I wanted to say something about secrecy. Isn't it strange, how much I've shown of myself here? I was wondering which I really am, the soft-spoken man I present to the world, or the slightly mad verbal acrobat performing before your very eyes at this moment, or something else. None of any of it, of course. It's not that simple. Wouldn't it be nice if it were simple? But you're not simple either. If integrity is always being the same, no matter who you're with -- just a matter of roles, not of personas -- then, well, I don't know what ... I was going to say no one has integrity, but that's not right. What does this have to do with secrecy? It's about what we're protecting. I'm not in a box, I'm in a number of boxes, some inside the others, some off in some other place entirely.

My son has some plans that have become unsettled, and it's disturbing to me. I've seen my job as adviser, not dictator. I've told the story before, here, but there was a time, when he was a teenager, that he planned on doing something dishonorable. I was traveling at the time, in Canada or Idaho or somewhere, and he said on the phone he was going to do such and such, had it all worked out. I said, "No, you're not going to do that." "Yes, I am." "No, you're not, and here's why: you would not bring shame to me." There was nothing he could say to that, because it was true. I'd earned his respect, and he had to give it to me. Never lie to your kids, and they will honor you for it, and they will trust you when it matters most. Part of it is that I always respected him. Now he has asked my advise, and I'm not impartial because I care too much, but it's about what's best for him, regardless of my preference. There is a difference.

See? I have hardly any secrets. What do details matter. The truth is that I am profoundly self-destructive, but too rational to act it out. I was thinking about eating, earlier. About what a bondage it is, always having to eat. Every day, some number of times. How mechanical. This is what life is? A series of chores? Eat, excrete, wake, sleep, move, be still. How joyless. There are a few people who are important to me, whose company I enjoy and look forward to. Now there's a word: enjoy. What is appetite? It is a sign of health. And here I am, subterranean, creeping through life as if it were a crime. How did this happen.

When my son first went into the military he had to fill in his religion. "What are we?" he asked. Well, it would have been Non-denominational Protestant. What, Lutheran? That's an inherited sect. I have no inheritance. Maybe lefse. I told him, "I don't know what you are, but I'm Christian." See? He does not inherit his religion. He has to choose. He did, I'm pleased to say. I'm not a big believer in dictating, despite all these offers I've been getting lately to rule the world. I used to take my boys to church, every week, not because they believed or didn't believe, but because it was the right thing to do. I don't know what choices they may have made later in their lives.

I wanted to say something about this blog. It's been a few years since I've done a retrospective on what I like here. I'm not going to spend any time right now on it. But I like this, from just a little while ago: "I looked at Michael Jackson's magnum opus, Childhood. What a pathetic freakshow. There's a soulful little white boy who's cantilevered up at the end into a magic flying boat, summoned by the hand of an older boy. What went through my head was that the little boy was in for a thorough sodomizing. It must have been the context." I think that's so rich. So harsh and truthful. And this, from My Detective Novel: "Ah, deSoto .. at last I come to you!" I said. "You had all the motive in the world ..... and motive is the reason people commit crimes!" It's so good. Motive is the reason people commit crimes. Who else could ever have written such a line? It's brilliant. And last, I think about this sometimes. It doesn't stand alone, but in context it's the best thing I've ever written. You don't understand it of course. You think you do, but you don't. Because it doesn't exist to be understood.

Like life.


J

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