01 August 2006

August and Everything Prior, or
     There's A Trick With A Scalpel I'm Learning To Do

Summer's now three-quarters over, with only August left to roar before the onset of the dying fall. As ever, I can sum up the bloody thing before it's done. It's like a Henry James novel: once you're about halfway through, you know how it's all going to end, its trajectory all but certain, and the space between the halfway and the two-thirds mark merely preparing you for what you already expect, as if to suggest that inevitability is somehow intrinsically ironic, and seeing the thing through just a formality. (The same is true, by the way, of an Adam Sandler comedy, though the James novel usually isn't as depressing.) When you reach that point when the trajectory is clear, you begin hoping that you're wrong, but you know you're not going to be. You might as well hope that two speeding trains on course for one another might fly their tracks and begin doing loopdeloops. It just ain't gonna happen, and you know it.

So too with summer, at least for me. Its pattern never changes. It ambles in with hope and confidence and lumbers out with fatigue and frustration. Between beginning and end come the usual events: the tantalizing possibilities, the extended anticipations, the requisite complications, the tortuous attempts to resolve same, and, of course, the inevitable cutting of one's losses. The last two parts of the process are the ones I hate most, the former for the obvious reasons, the latter for its despicable and often callous necessity. In theory, the former should obviate the latter, but it seldom does. As I have often said, I don't mind tilting at windmills, but I draw the line at bashing my head repeatedly and pointlessly against a Chinese wall. The hard part, ostensibly, is learning to tell the difference. (It shouldn't be; it's always wall.) I wonder, though, if it's good that I'm getting better at walking away and letting things (and people) go. I'm certainly getting cooler (colder?) about it. Regrettably, necessity mothers amputation as much as it does invention, so one does as one must. There's never much point in delaying the inevitable, or feigning blindness to the obvious--- unless you're Henry James, of course. Even Hamlet does what he has to do eventually.

So, yes, as most of you have surely surmised by now, I'm in the process of cutting my losses, of salvaging what can still be salvaged and extracting myself from situations with, hopefully, at least a measure of dignity and self-respect. I hate the clinicism this demands, and I hate even more the incipient sense of waste connected to it all. I think here of the poor bastards who train for the Olympics in their respective events only to come in last, and so realize they could have done absolutely NOTHING and attained the same result. My situation, of course, isn't so devastating. Mine's just cynicising, or further cynicising. Work, effort, energy, experience, patience, ability, kindness, decency--- they never matter, or, rather, they never seem to matter. (He writes, just receiving via snail mail yet further proof of this; something to do with the veal and the Gestapo garb, perhaps?) Everything prior seems just another exercise in being strung along, and every effort finally a waste. One might as well have done nothing; the result would have been the same.

Ironically, everything comes back to waste and ventures forth from it, to getting past the indignities and the losses and the beleaguering questions of why and why not, and finally trying not to let all that waste hit you on the ass on the way out. It's easier said than done, amputating one's losses and simply moving on, regardless of feeling. (There's no anaesthesia, either, except maybe for those Henry James novels.) Just cut and go, I'm learning, is as Augustan a ritual as shoveling in December--- just cut and go . It's a trick with a scalpel I'm learning to do, albeit a solipsistic one. If I can ever get it right, it'll be really, really neat, I promise.

Until I do, though, you might want to stand back: I'm the Not-So-Good Doctor after all, and this thing's f&#king sharp.

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