a conduit and not a content (excerpt)

Evan Dara’s THE LOST SCRAPBOOK, pp. 190-92

…In fact, this happens often — when I feel as if words, others’ words, have crowded mine out, and have left me no place; I do not know why, through what mechanism, this occurs, but when it does, and it is often, I find that I develop a need, an earnest yearning, for words that have not become sour and strange — that is, for words that are my own, words that are uniquely mine amid this foreign wash; and yet I find, when I look for such words — my words — none seem to be there: all of my words, upon the slightest inspection, seem so foreign to me, so much the work of others; and so I wonder how I can claim that anything that occurs in my consciousness is mine, and not the product of some otherness; often I feel that I am not thinking so much as eavesdropping on my own thoughts, listening in on a narrative being told between otherness — that it is the otherness thinking me; because none of it, in truth, seems to issue from me; even my unplanned cries, my most heartfelt exclamations, have been determined by others: I have noticed that it is precisely at times of highest emotion — when I am going to the deepest regions of my responses, to the deepest particularity of me — that my words, which would then seem to be at their most personal and spontaneous, are in fact their most derivative, just pure banal cliché: O my god!, Will you look at that?, I don’t believe it!; but where are my words, I wonder, my own thoughts?; it seems, sometimes, that I am a conduit and not a content — a transit point, a capacitor, a pattern in waves; or, at most, I am a bricklayer, combining chucks of accepted solidity to wall out fresh perception; is this adolescent thinking? — I don’t know, but I wonder where the suggestion came from that it is adolescent thinking; at best, I see myself, that coal-stone, as some kind of irritant, as something that makes flows of culture coagulate, pearl-like, in my consciousness: I am not expressed, but accrued; lopped off from my sources, submerged in received history, I feel myself only as an offputting unknown: I do not know why I never wear the same shoes two days in a row; I do not know why I tell people that I don’t like to travel; I do not know why I keep so little food in the apartment; I do not know why I fret so when I have to wait in line; I do not know why I surge when I see Masaccio’s Expulsion from the Garden, while Michelangelo’s version of the exact same tale leaves me utterly cold; I do not know how I ended up in the work that I do; I do not know why I work on presenting an appearance of unrufflable affability; I do not even know why I pay attention to myself; but I do know that these concerns, and the words that compose these concerns, sound, as well, as if they had been taken from others — lifted wholesale; even my words for articulating my sadness are only an embodiment of the otherness expressing sadness, are part of this system; this Möbius culture, and so further confirmation of its dominion; others’ words have even determined the content of my suffering, and what I want, above all, is to find my own means to suffer, to be able to express myself in sadness; this, then, will be my project, my creative enterprise: to find an absolutely personal mode of sadness; it is, perhaps, the most significant work left me; yet I shouldn’t even say me, my, myself, when speaking about this, for doing so represents too bold an assertion; it would be better, more accurate, certainly more discerning, to use the third person, she, to best capture the situation — or even he, the masculine, the form that is even more generic: I should really say He wakes up; He sloshes to the bathroom; He winces and big-blinks for the mirror — yes, that is better; that certainly is right: He twists the handle that flushes the blue-bowled Standard toilet; He skims His eyes, He brushes His teeth; He takes lather from a nozzled canister and shaves with a razor of orange plastic; He taps on aftershave, and feels its cerdar-y acerbity frost His nose; He paints Ban under His left arm, His right arm; He holds his arms outward-elevated until the pit-chill abates, until He has received the all-dry; from His armoire He withdraws a pastel blue Lauren shirt, then unclosets a deep blue Paul Smith suit, with silvery pinstripes; He breaks the cleaner’s paper band from His shirt, then feel’s His shirt’s textured stiffness wrap around His shoulders, His triceps, His belly, Him; He buttons and smoothes, He collars, He feels the heft of His suit; it rectangles at His shoulder, it slopes at His waist; He sits and bends to soft socks and smooth, scuffless shoes; He combs His hair-layers to their destined fallings, which they seek out, regardless, on their own; He checks and inverts His black plastic comb, then uses its milkteeth to align his eyebrows; He takes up the tiny, trim envelope from the surface of His bureau, and is reminded of what it promises: Rostropovitch, Dvořák, Beethoven; He gathers unto Him jewelry, analog watch, coins, keys, wallet, then seals them upon His person with the tightening knot of His tie; He waggles His neckskin to final snug comfortableness, then breaks open His wood door, transiting to the crisper flatness of His hallway carpet…

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