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Trip to Walden Pond

Tuesday 10/12/21

Listening to Beethoven's fifteenth string quartet at I write. The passage in Meatheads Say the Realest Things about the string quartets moves me much. There's this part in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment when he shows you this about Raskolnikov, he shows you this about Sofya, and then there they are together, communing. We understand the reasons why, we understand why they must, we understand all that has led here, and all of the change. There's a sentence in this sequence that is simply--but not so simply at all--"Life is." That's what happens--you slow down the meaning of it all, pull that meaning forward, so that you can show the world what it looks like so that they can recognize it. You can't tell them what it is. You have to show them so that they can see. You capture the "answer" by moving much else together in a relational way that causes that answer to be shown. They won't be able to articulate what they see. But they'll know they've seen it. You've cracked open the universe, you've put forward the solution to the mystery, you've revealed what life truly is. No one can be shown that anywhere else in that same way.


The part in Meatheads when Chad goes to check on Old Grapey after the latter's wife has died and Chad hasn't seen him for a while and he's listening to Beethoven's string quartets at his apartment and Chad is able to understand why--and bring that forward into his own life, in his small way--is, as they say, why we are here. It seems at first like Old Grapey is lying, or has lost his proverbial marbles. But what is really happening is tender, beautiful, real.That is the life is moment. One of them in that book. The funniest book there is is also the most serious, in a way. Both are reasons why it will last--and because of everything bound up in those realities of the book and the reasons of the reasons and all that is within those reasons, their "whyness" and what is put before us, captured, shown, as nothing else can. The revelation comes from the set-up, how you arrange everything else in relationship to the various parts. The revelation is relational.


With Meatheads, you can always tell if someone has actually read it, or they're someone consumed with envy who simply wants to attack me, because not having read a word they'll say it's just some juvenile bro thing, when there isn't a more emotionally or stylistically sophisticated book out there. It cracks that universe open repeatedly, and that's not easy. You're talking the most involuted level of design to do that--but the best artist doesn't let his machinery show. He presents you with the most direct opportunity to sit before those cracks and observe and feel what comes through them.


Sunday marked 1925 days, or 275 weeks, without a drink of alcohol. Someone told me I should be a personal trainer. And while I am not a fan of people telling me to do something else--two of my own publishers told me to quit writing--I will take this compliment even if this person is not bright, and in truth rather dumb. But whatever. Fit is good.


After running 3000 stairs yesterday, I got the train to Concord, where I have not been in too long, and walked out to the pond, and then hiked some trails in the so-called Walden Woods by Brister's Hill. Brister's Hill is named for Brister Freeman who was a slave in Concord who served no less than three times in the Revolutionary War and won his freedom, then becoming a landholder in town. Thoreau esteemed him much and wrote about him in Walden.


Here's a quintessential New England church on my way out to the pond.



This is someone working in the community garden. As I travel through Concord, I think about the farmers who once worked the earth here, imagining where their homes would have been, the fields--for there are quite a few fields in Concord--where once their crops grew.


The site of Thoreau's chimney, within the marked-off space to the right.



The spot where Thoreau grew his beans:



Glimpse of the pond through the trees. Note the clarity of the water, which Thoreau wrote of.



A view from the side with the beach.



This is near Brister's Hill. Years ago, when I entered into the lower levels of hell, and before I came to this lowest of levels, where my life now sits, I came to this spot after Molly had taken everything from me. I sat on the ground, with my back against this marker, for more than an hour, destroyed, thinking if I would go on, if I could go on, if I should end my life and how I should end it if I was going to do so. What I didn't know was that my life was somehow, as if by some miracle in reverse, going to get, what, a thousand times worse? Ten thousand times? A million? Billion? That an entire industry would blackball me, and that that would not even be the real start of my problems. My far larger problem, the problem I fear is unsolvable, which dooms me, is that no one wants genius and greatness. The world hates those things. No one wants anything to do with either and both. That, really, is the one problem. It's really just one. Everything else--a million other problems--are bound up in that problem. But that is the issue. That's the whole of it. I remember this leaf fell and I watched it come down out of a tree. It seemed to be taking forever. It kept getting closer to me--you know those strange, undulating ways that leaves fall, such that you can hardly ever catch them even when they're two feet away from you--and the leaf landed right in my hair. I thought, "okay, we'll try. We'll try to carry on." When I'm back at this spot I wonder if I made the right decision, or if I should even continue to stick to it. This can't be your life. I am an alien in a world where i don't belong. I'm not the same species as what a human is. And they don't want me. They want people like them. They want stupidity and mediocrity. They don't want genius, they don't want greatness. On any level. Macro, micro. Art level. Entertainment level. Romantic level. Social level. Social media level, even.