Thursday, April 16, 2009

Meandering Mind In Macon, Late Evening

I am still on San Francisco time and the evening coffee made that even more apparent.

Outside, familiar night sounds: a train whistle, a dog, song. These are things I like hearing, splashes of sound that calm me down, make me delve deep for words I think are important.

My parent's apartment in Macon, Georgia is over a hundred years old. The first impressive thing is the hallway, a long and shadowy lane with high ceilings, an old wood floor with burnt-amber panelling, doorways I'm uncertain about cracked darkly on all sides, all of which gives the place an antique spaciousness just perfect for benevolent hauntings. Actually, there's lots of impressive things about the apartment. It is a very accommodating place, relaxed, serene, simple, and I can imagine wanting to live here just to finish some sordid, bloodthirsty novel that I couldn't finish anywhere else.

Macon has lean hills with spired schools on top and darkly verdant wooded areas and giant, columned, plantation homes with rocking chairs on the front porches. The cemetery we went to is maze-like and the river is reddish-brown and wide and a walking path wraps around it. Macon also has blight and poverty and burned-out cars close enough to the nice parts. I think when good and bad are close together, it's better that way, although that is only an assumption.

I've been reading up on some non-fiction down here: articles in The Atlantic about the economic crisis, links on Bookforum about suicide, geography, prostitutes and all sorts of stimulating intellectual crises and my favorite social theorist of the moment whose monumental written output I've only barely tapped: Cornelius Castoriadis who was an economist, psychoanalyst, and social libertarian of sorts whose work seems to transcend both hopelessly out-of-touch Marxism and Postmodern nihilism. Delving back into stuff like that makes me inspired to write fiction. And reading fiction makes me want to write more essays.

Some of my thoughts have been panicky flailings about THE FUTURE. I've wondering about cities where artists can still go to and live like artists. I'm wondering about how you should make friends with doctors, and dentists, and horticulturalists. Which brings me to somethings I need to write about, like my first forays just last weekend into urban gardening, and the enduring notion that to live like an artist, at least in terms of frugality, self-reliance and communality, is actually the most honorable, even dare I say the most sustainable thing to do.

I've talked at length down here about decisions for something like a comfortable future, conversations that aren't easy to have and harder even to capitalize on. But necessary and beneficial precisely because they can be unsettling. The love is there, coming from all corners as tough and truthful as it is.

I think the task of writing, and the belief that you will continue writing while knowing you will certainly have to do other things is akin to this great F. Scott Fitzgerald quote:
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

And with that, I bid you goodnight.

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