The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space. - Ranier Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Letter 23

Dear Josephine,

This is the longest correspondence I've ever maintained. In honor of this, I have decided to write you a letter markedly less vague.

I've decided that I need to buckle down and plan my future rather than coasting through these twenties focused solely on work/apartment/family life. There is more to living than categories. I've started studying for the GREs; this is the most self-motivated/determined I've been since writing my thesis. I'm terrified of not meeting my goals. Does everything comes down to numbers?

And too, I'm terrified of the act of erasure. Tell me Josephine, did you ever learn to make construction paper (wo)men who clasp hands, who create a half-wreath of communal love/friendship? Sometimes I imagine that the violence of scissors disconnecting body from body parallels the act of removing a person from one's life. Yes, the paper congregation murmurs, thank you for our moments of joy and giving, we will retain this scar, this reminder of your absence.

The other day I thought about my father. You are right; this is a topic I conceal through silence. Two weeks ago I made a half-hearted attempt at reconciliation, because I'm not wading in lukewarm water anymore, because I'm tired of battered conversations and unnecessary resentment. I believe in forgiveness -- grudges are stunted trees that darken landscapes. Still: I haven't returned his phone call, don't know what we'll say to one another through the lines.

I've been craving reading and writing literary theory again. You only have to look at my shopping cart to see:

1. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain - Maryanne Wolf
2. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence - Esther Perel
3. Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature - Roberta S. Trites
4. On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life - Adam Phillips
5. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge Classics) - Judith Butler
6. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality - Anne Fausto-Sterling
7. Constructing the Black Masculine: Identity and Ideality in African American Men's Literature and Culture, 1775-1995 (A John Hope Franklin Center Book) - Maurice O. Wallace
8. Orientalism - Edward W. Said
9. All About Love: New Visions - bell hooks
10. Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory - Houston A. Baker Jr.


This past weekend I re-read papers I wrote in college. One paper was 27 pages discussing the cloaking power of the linguistic modifier "I" in relation to the creationary "self". I miss academia.

What else to tell you? This past year I meandered through cities (some real, some imaginary), practiced introspection, and felt trampled/muffled/rumpled. But now, the word is only: refreshing, refreshed, refreshment.


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