More than a month has passed since my last entry here. This time, between then and now, as I hold it in my mind’s eye takes the form of a channel, or current, with more swirling eddies of retrospective questions than any yet in my time so far as a New Yorker. Questions of purpose, questions of knowledge: what kind of life have I been seeking? When have I felt things were going according to plan? When have I felt like there was a plan? It’s as if parts of me have been systematically cut from myself, and put up for board review to the crew of the ship of fools.
It’s so strange how much I’ve expected from people who are essentially strangers. Stranger still, I’ve thought over the past week, how directly I’ve transferred my own voice onto this “picayune” blog, how superlatively narcissistic these words have become. Most others who compose do so in a voice not so different than what one would find on any other social networking site, implicitly praising univocity. Of course, I have full non-consensual access to the voice of imagined dissent, too. The one which crosses oneself on the grounds of what one does not or should not possibly know, but I’ve always felt entitled to expressing my thoughts, and this tendency has only become more fastidious and inexorable as the weeks go on, because no one I live amidst is thinking about these things so directly: Time, Desire, Repression, Eros, Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, Linguistics, Poetry. All whom I’ve personally met and carried on an extended correspondence with are more concerned with mainstream humanism, philanthropy, ideologically-ridden sentimental solace, efficiency, mental ticks, advertising, profit, drugs, modernist ethics, games of categorical denotation, decadence and unconscious hedonism.
But the strangest thing recently, since I returned to that unhappy vocation on the streets of Manhattan, is how quickly I’ve coated myself in psychosomatic, syntactic and rhetorical code. I’ve sunk into myself, embedded my own feelings in my appearance, hidden away from the daily world of capitalist-driven charity and its infinite greed. Why? I’ve not had a single real desire answered (let alone sated) in six months, and the city, in its sound and fury, has no translatable import to my real voice. What I mean is that I have not truly communicated one single word or gesture in this city yet this year.
Everything is mediated. There’s no “there” there, just a husk.
Consequently, anything resembling a real sense of identity has switched tracks from the physical, embodied space of skin, substance and dimensions to the vicissitudes of time itself; I am here, but I am not here. Most of what I think about and feel has as its object things which exist only partially, yes in memories, but also in their manifold interpretations, and the alternate relationships and manners and genders I’d persist in now as a result of them. This multiplicity of past timelines has a substantial philosophical effect; namely, an acute sense of enhanced authenticity; every quip, tick, retort, mood and voice has an entire narrative of its own, each again with another higher-order manifold in alternate origins. The greater the complexity, the more I seem like everyone else; the simpler, the more abstract, odd and exceptional I am. What this means is to be myself is to be a very strange man, indeed.
But it’s the future that completes this shift in personality to the temporal. A dandelion blown away into a gust of full wind no one else believes in, a cloud of infinite forms pausing for a moment to return my gaze.
A man named Arthur living in the upper east side, born and raised, spoke to me for twenty minutes about his temp job, how he’s losing the battle for his house against the forces of gentrification, how he’s facing early retirement, how he has survived cancer despite his family withering away. He is attractive, with gray hair peeking out of his face; vibrant, strong and experienced, yet tired, and afraid. He almost brought himself to tears. He kept repeating “it’s only getting worse, it’s only going to get worse,” looking over my shoulder all the while, addressing what I imagine is his last conversation with the present.
On the subways I read Derrida on my phone, and contemplate the ironic value of how perfectly my former college life’s socially available (and virile) narrative fits into his notion of différance; repetition within origination, the mechanism inside the singularity; the machine in the event. The train transports me between worlds, from my own homebody’d phenomenology of spirit and somber recognitions to the Sisyphean masques of the weekday; the tribal assemblies pre-sales-dissemination, the curious eyes I send away, the spiked coffee to tolerate quantitative individuation, all of it is a strange machine everyone turns into gears for, and I give thanks to myself for having even accidentally given myself a place abstracted enough from the artificial movements of others’ quotidian woes for me to at least have three hours’ physically manifested space which does not forbid melancholy, and tears are fought back on that 2 train to work, every other day, whether I know which thoughts are bringing them to bear or not.
And every night, one promises oneself that emails will be sent, signals made to other machines, other jobs, other feeds and zines and queens, and that someday, someone wrapped up in self-contemplation among the stars of all the myriad ways one’s future-perfect self could turn out will unravel, to Ravel, and appear, laying, pre-stretched and relaxed on this multiverse one was always already treading through.