Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Proust on Twitter

2 March 2021


March comes in like a wet sock. New power structures are the old ones inside out, like socks. The wind gusts to 50 mph, somewhere in a sock. Sock it to me made us laugh, once upon a time. The past is fairy tale, just as gory and strange. Cinderella’s heel leaves a bloody sock, like the guy who pitches conspiracy theories. In these damp cold days, I must wear socks. Knee socks, like when I was a kid. Radhika wanted argyle socks. We searched every store in Edinburgh before a department store coughed them up, those socks. Socks was a presidential cat, though we’ve moved into the era of dogs, those who like to swim and those who do not.

To pay attention resists capitalism, except the figure remains. Payment owed. To attend, to be present, to assist at a concert, as in the French. To attend is to assist, in English; I cannot offer care unless I attend to you. COVID makes this hard. Either we get the virus or we get depressed in our isolation. Which kind of disease would you prefer? Which is more lethal? Can you get us the statistics on that, before we decide between methods of loss? Sickness is method, but then there’s madness.

I’m inclined to think the bloody sock was fake, a mind game set at the heel, by the heel, and for the heels. When did it heal? One soccer player got cut to the bone. Coach said she’d never seen anything like it. An opposing player started clapping, loudly. (Her one mother clapped when she wanted someone’s attention.) A referee is a sometime mother, though only in saccades. Girl 2 stayed with Girl 1, asking her questions lest she look at her leg. I was so pleased to hear of this act of compassion that I emailed everyone.

Radhika’s got a heel pass. She runs past the ball, then kicks it backwards to a teammate. Then one time she ran hard at an opposing player, making a sharp left turn as she arrived, and the other player crumpled to the ground. How do I tell my students that words can do similar. Not strung along like ordinary beads until they add up, like an abacus, to a unit of communication. But glitter on their strings, kick back their heels, sing in this perpetual rain.

We’ll talk about publication and time. We did space, the way poems come to mean other things in different places. Easier to dispatch a broadside than an anthology, but also easier to read. Now, pull out your stop watches and measure the time between composition and reception based on 1) letter press, 2) mimeograph machines, 3) twitter. Read Proust on twitter and see how his sentences enjamb between tweets, how his looping syntax gets interrupted by politics and sports and other memories, those that are but do not act on us.

To blog was to think. Now to archive. If you tell me what you forget, I can tell you who you are. Did a therapist say that, if not to me? Are we the gaps in narrative, the pulses of a phone, the interruptions to our thought? I read Dickens for his digressions. My own life is less plot than a kick of the heels.

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