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Category Archives: Literature

I come from a world of beauty. Everyone else lives in this world as well, but so often they fail to see it. I get up in the morning, and while some people sleep through it, and some people appreciate the sunrise, I notice the beautiful graffiti the neighborhood boys have made on the previously bare white brick wall. I went to the Louvre in Paris, and while nearly a hundred people crowded around the Mona Lisa, I gasped at the amazing Titian works around the back. Truly, I do find the balance and perfection of the Renaissance paintings beautiful, but I find the slightly off-kilter figuratives of the Mannerist era (Bronzino, Greco et al) more appealing.
I ride the public transportation, and although there are many attractive men arriving or departing at every station, I smile at the woman who gives up her seat for an old man or the father playing hand games with his six-year-old daughter. Her smile is always brighter than I think possible except in that moment.
I admire Rhetoric, that refined goddess of the silken oration, the passionately lowered voice, the persuasion of the masses. Lovelier, however, is the raw appeal of Truth; no graceful garments has she. Truth weeps in the gutter, dirty and scarred, recalling her story to anyone who listens. So many pass her by, but stopping to admire her and hear her tales is more than worth it when one finds that her history is more fantastically dramatic than anything one could dream.
I live in the world where “anything essential is invisible to the eyes,” as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry says in The Little Prince. I live in a world where the most beautiful picture might not be of a Hawaiian rainbow, but of a puddle of dirty water, where one’s mother can be beautiful at any weight, where gray can be the most vivid color of all.
I come from the real world, and the beauty is all of humanity, feuding, embracing humanity, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. I am its observer; I intend to be its advocate. Whether as a doctor, a politician, a writer, an art historian, a teacher, a mathematician or something else, I will serve and protect the beauty of humanity. I will serve my world.

So I’ve decided that as part of my new and spiffified organized life, I’m going to blog weekly. No more of this “creative spurt” business (hahahaha, Zachy, I’m turning into a girl!). So maybe I won’t always be brilliant, but there will always be something.

I had my senior piano recital yesterday. The only one of my friends who could come was darling Katie L, but that’s fine with me. It was kind of scary anyway. I wasn’t as nervous as when I did the Foreign Language Talent Show, and I also wasn’t as nervous as any of my fellow pianists. But it was so different from doing a regular recital with Ms. Queener or even like a school talent show. I suppose it was knowing that I was in front of people who knew what good piano playing sounds like- they all knew one of my classmates, or they wouldn’t have been there. I did all right though I thought.

It’s… strange to me to think of how so much of my life is ending. I’ve been going to piano lessons since I was five. I just basically did the biggest performance of my piano career, since I’m not going to pursue it as anything other than a hobby after this year. I might have a teacher in college, but I’ll never play piano professionally because I’m just not that good. It’s strange to think of all these “talents” that kids take lessons for and they take up so much of their lives- and when they leave home… some of them just don’t last. I remember meeting my cousin George’s wife and talking to her when I was in Florida in 8th grade, and I remember playing her piano. And she told me that she had taken lessons through her senior year of high school and she never touched the piano since. And it was totally inconceivable to me that I would ever be like that, but I know so many adults who did things in their childhoods and just never pursued them further. I also know many people who continue to do things they did as kids, like my uncle and his trombone and my aunt and her softball and Paul O and his tap-dancing, but I’ve noticed they don’t do everything they did as kids. They pretty much have time for one hobby, the rest of their time is spent working.

I know it’s strange for a seventeen year old to say this, but I just feel like there can’t possibly be enough time for everything I’d like to do. I would love to be a surgeon, I would love to work with cyclotrons, I would love to run for congress, I would love to be a singer, I would love to spend all my time restoring paintings or blowing up stuff or helping people get jobs or… everything. And that’s just careers. I think of the things I would like to do as an adult that don’t make money- I’d love to travel the world, maybe do a musical, get a bridge club like my grandma, throw awesome parties for my friends, go camping, learn some foreign languages, go to church every week, raise a couple kids in Alameda, play rugby into my forties, keep in touch with all my family and friends, do proper Christmas every year…

…so how the fuck am I going to have the time to retire and go to Tahoe for a couple months a year and read New Yorkers on the beach? I just think of that and it makes me feel so sad. That was what my dad was going to do, you see. Retire and sit on the beach at Tahoe, reading his New Yorkers. He kept all the ones he didn’t finish reading on time- so we have several boxes of them, dating back from the late eighties. And I just think, we all plan like we’re going to make it to ninety-three. Like we’re going to be able to enjoy everything just as much when we’re little old people as we can now.

Carefree youth. Maybe some people manage that. I wonder sometimes where mine went.

I tried a long time ago to write a blog post about The Sun Also Rises. I never published it, because it just wasn’t very good and it sounded pretty condescending, which is not how I meant it. But I feel like I can really explain Brett Ashley.

She’s not a slut- not by the definition below, anyway. She’s much like the heroine of The Barefoot Contessa– at some point in her life, she thought she had it all. She thought that she had found her one true love, that she could just spend the rest of her life making him happy, giving him kids, giving him her body, giving him everything. And she would have been so happy to do that. If Brett could have Jake, really, she would never look at anyone else. She says to him “When I think of the hell I’ve put chaps through. I’m paying for it all now.” She used to just play with the affections of men, using their libido to support her lifestyle and her ego. And then she met Jake and fell in love with him. And so her total and complete love just built up in her- she just wanted that life where he was her world. She just had all that physical energy for him. At some point his accident shattered her hopes and dreams for the perfect life. I know it’s not usual to say this, I know that usually guys use this as a cop-out for douche-bag behavior, but sometimes girls have Needs too. And Brett has no outlet for them. She can’t give absolutely everything to Jake because he can’t take it- he can’t satisfy her. But neither can any other man because she doesn’t love any other man. His injury killed not only his happiness, but hers as well. So she returns to the life she led before- seducing men because she can- but she can’t take any joy in it because she knows what she’s missing. Brett Ashley is “tired of living but scared of dying.” She’s only alive because she doesn’t want to die- she isn’t alive because she wants to live. She has nothing to live for, but she also has nothing to die for. She’s in a perpetual limbo of mere existance.

And that, ultimately, is really what I think about when I face mortality. I think of my endless possibilities for happiness and fulfillment and then I think of my infinite capacity for defeatism, and I think maybe I’ll end up like her. Maybe I’ll end up like Brett Ashley, or Maria Vargas, or any drunk on the streets, drinking because they don’t want to remember that they’re failing at living.

So that’s why I’m getting my ass organized. Maybe it’s more beautiful and smooth and free-flowing just living my life moment to moment, blogging when I feel like it… but maybe life isn’t about the beauty. Sadness is a beautiful, romantic thing to behold. Ultimately, though, I feel like beauty is such an intangible, fleeting thing, and at the end of the day, it’s just not worth it. Who says that the Mona Lisa is more valuable as a work of art than Mark Rothko’s Number 14? It’s beautiful, but maybe art isn’t all about beauty either. Maybe art is really about life. Why do we study the cave paintings at Altamira, anyway? Why do we study the art of the Egyptians? Is it because it’s beautiful? Isn’t it really because we want to know the painters?

I don’t know. Perhaps I overindulge my rambling tendency. God bless you, you just read over thirteen hundred words.