Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Truth can't be relative

I have a problem with Tess Gallagher. I'm not entirely sure why. You see, I first read Raymond Carver in high school. As a Northwest writer, he was featured prominently in many of my English classes throughout high school and my early years in college. Raymond Carver had the kind of everyman sensibiliity that gives you hope that your journal might actually be more than jibberish. And then there's Tess - his wife - and though accomplished in her own accord, Guggenheim Fellowship, blah blah blah, is always mentioned in her relation to him. I don't know if this is her own doing, but it seems so given the content of her interviews since his death. Maybe it's the sense of a dependency on his memory for her own history that I'm reacting to? The way you can't read about him without reading about her and jesus, don't you want to know about John Lennon independent of Yoko? So there it is. I feel mean.

***

Yesterday I tried to shake my 24 hr hangover by going to the Whole. I picked up some salmon and mashed potatoes, though in the end neither appealed. I grabbed a New Yorker and started reading. I'd been sitting and reading and pushing food around my plate for about 30 minutes when a guy sitting next to me asked me if I was from New York. Huh? New York? Was it my jacket? (I'm very chic that way.) No - it was my magazine. I hadn't realized that the New Yorker might bespeak provenance. This simple exchange prompted an hour long conversation about the difference between religion and spirtuality, the challenging of beliefs by one's cognitive peers and the corresponding result on one's own foundation, the problem with post-modernism, intellectual contextualism, and, finally, the definition of knowledge. Did I mention I had a hangover? Now I loves me an academic conversation as much as the next clinical over-analyzer, but I also like to have my footing about me. You know? I ended up telling this stranger that I do write (he asked) and I'm writing about freedom. He misunderstood the context to be the kind you read about in newspapers, and I didn't correct him because it was big enough for me to put it out there in the first place. Plus, I couldn't think straight. My head felt fuzzy like when you look down a long desert road and the distance appears blurred by atmospheric gas or something else scientific. I should have just told him, "look I'm hungover," but even that would've required a presence I couldn't muster.

The conversation ended, I met my friends for dinner, and then I called it a night. My hangover finally wore off. I recalled the conversation from earlier. I couldn't remember what he looked like, really, but his name was James. Did I tell him that I write? About freedom? Last year I started off the new year with the goal of writing a book that would somehow be this transformational treatise. I envisioned that the process of writing it would gracefully (read: quickly) shape me into this inspired blissful being who sprinkled fairy dust everywhere she went. It hasn't happend *quite* like that but I'm still at it which could signal progress. A few days ago I took my friend Malia's class. She offered us a clear enough platitude: "Think and act and so you become." And now here I am - talking about writing and writing about writing and well, writing. Maybe I should start saying I'm a model or a billionnaire or something along those lines.

2 comments:

John said...

I love those kinds of conversations, especially with total strangers. However I seem to be getting less articulate as time passes. My cognitive functions often hang just when I need them most. Maybe I should read less and have more conversations with real people.

"The wider your knowledge the milder your opinions". I forget who said that.

vanessa said...

I've read your blogs. I would disagree that you're "getting less articulate as time passes." Perhaps it's that your standards are higher?