A vetted and substantiated “against” is practically a prerequisite for any good “for.” That expansion/contraction, generative/critical, for/against dialectical rhythm seems to me the essence of creativity and critical thought. I am not a someone who is afraid of negativity. I don’t think of it is poison, sour grapes, or the last smirk of the cynic. I can hardly imagine meaning and progress without it.
I was afraid I would like writing, that essays would start humming in my head on my walks instead of songs. And that did in fact happen.
I was brought up to believe unquestioningly that reading was healthy, good for you like spinach, and virtuous. I now see reading as entirely neutral, the absurd claims of its inherent powers little more than middle-class social-mobility propaganda, as well as a puritanical reaction against the rise of electronic media in mid-century.
Alternative spirituality still seems to be a way for the upper classes to feel purified, cleansed of complicity in the disgrace of runaway capitalism and wealth. Throw in a dash of specious we-all-make-our-own-realities self-deterministic philosophy and you see how it is possible to feel very good, very healthy, about one’s bank account.
On the occasions he could be convinced or coerced to drive to New York City at all, my father hugged a one-road route that I now recognize as fabulously misguided and fear-based. As a result, I grew up believing that it took two to two-and-a-half stress-saturated hours to get from New Paltz to Manhattan neighborhoods that I can now make in a buck 20 in light traffic.
You ride it out. It will be over soon, and even you are not entirely above the gratifications of revenge, vindication, consummation.
Instead of visualizing bad energies flowing out of me, I imagine inflamed things settling, overfiring hydrants and spigots lowering output back to within desirable levels, red things getting less red, puffy things less puffy, the thresholds of oversensitive alert and warning systems recalibrated.
Imperfection is cool, but the celebration of imperfection can lead to the misguided pursuit of its earmarks, the codification of imperfection in a set of manners and gestures available only to those who possess the right influences, the right sources of wrong.
Golf, in the abstract, is hitting a petrified sheep turd with a cow’s leg into a gopher hole, and then gradually getting all human and scientific about roughly the same timeline as the Industrial Revolution.
Sleep is not still. It is not passive. It is engagement. It demands composure, energy, and form. It has angles of entry, its own laws of physics, a language we can occasionally remember.