There are two gates of Sleep, one said to be
of horn, whereby the true shades pass with ease,
the other all white ivory agleam
without a flaw, and yet false dreams are sent
through this one by the ghosts to the upper world.
You wake up into the world and somebody takes care of you if you’re lucky. You learn to eat when you’re hungry and you stop crying all the time. You walk to school with your mom, you walk to school alone. Who are all these people anyway. You come home and turn on the radio, you hear a Spanish song. The words mean I am a truthful man from the land of the palm trees. You fall in love with yourself, sometimes. Maybe if you had a more expressive face. You do a Buddy Holly impression in the shower. You turn on the computer. The light is sympathetic but you can’t believe in any of it.
I saw Bernie Sanders give a speech in an opera house. Most of us in the audience took to making crass and asymphonic noises in support of the candidate. I sat next to one of the only elderly people in the theatre, a reserved man in pleated slacks content to look around silently at all the strident and performative youths, breaking his silence only to join in chanting “Ber-nie”, using the same tone of voice you might use to order Chinese food on the phone. I saw a woman in a star-spangled hijab and later I saw her photo in the news. Bernie came on the stage and said the things I’ve heard him say before in videos, and I liked it. On the one wall of the chamber there was a mural with the words “THE UTTERANCE OF SYMPHONY” and on the other was painted “LIFE IS A SONG OF NATURE”. Probably a thousand people took the same blurry picture. There are a lot of things you can do to try and feel like a part of something.
How about I’ll wear a light blue suit and you wear a dark blue suit, and you wear a white suit, and you wear an orange suit, and you wear a green suit and bring your blue violin, and you wear a black suit, and Jim will wear a suit of shining gold, and then we’ll get out there and play our song.
When I was much younger the world seemed completely incoherent. But growing older I find that it’s perfectly coherent and much smaller than I had imagined. At times I feel, ludicrously, like I already know everything that can be known: the range of music that can be heard, the sights that can be seen. A grown man such as I am could choose to live categorically, selecting genericized versions of past feelings to reinstantiate, living life like picking a movie on Netflix. What will it be tonight? Self consciously delusional optimism? Come to Jesus? Grief, perfunctory or truly felt? Mordant self regard? It’s a weird lie, knowing the categories is of course nothing at all like knowing the thing, so again and again I’ll meet with some wild surprise and remember that I know next to nothing.
New job, long hair, new shoes, and sumer is icumen in. There was a time when if you wanted facts in the house you couldn’t pipe them in, you had to have books. And the facts not contained therein would have to be sought in the outer world. As opposed to now where I seem to be surrounded by them, and nothing seems to matter less.