Academic journal article Chicago Review

Background

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Background

Article excerpt

Okay, this is a good one: Carl suspected she was cheating on him with his editor, with his own editor, but he wasn't sure, then last week she's undressing and he recognizes a backwards page of the galley proofs to his new book on her ass! Right. Not that Carl's a saint himself, etc., and Denny's story, and Andrea's story, buzz inside a larger buzz, the fly of gossip threading through the greater jet of gossip, what's the Bible if not the tattled after-reportage of glory and miracle, what's the omnipresent sizzle in radio telescopes if not the hot gossip of elements, incessant background

dither-&-hiss against which one's own marriage assumes a monolithic stature, and all of the micro-factoids, all of the endless Carls of the universe, are so much air. The evening light is lavender as it recomposes on our side of the bedroom blinds. I trace her spine--she doesn't wake. I stroke it close to reverently; this knobbled length as solid as a figured ivory peace pipe I once saw in a gallery lets me feel "love" is something sculpturally solid too-as tough as a tusk. And even so, a twitter in my head insists that what our years together are, is background

--call it weave--in which "the real work" gets patterned--call it writing. Call it being called. The distance is the bedroom to the page. And then the distance is a life bactracked: I'm trying to bring a childhood memory steadily out of the background interference, out of our own substratum melange of neurotransmitters, mitochondrial DNA, the psyche, the soul, and out of chaos and periodicity, to the scale of gene pool transmigration and galaxies... I'm trying to enflesh it but it flickers, steadies, flickers. Here's what it is the tacky background

to a tacky dacron off-the-rack wall tapestry in the living room is someone's operatic idea of ancient Rome, and in the foreground senators and gladiators promenade. I'm four. I've found that if I stare dispiritedly enough, the fore- and backreverse, a simple but endlessly entertaining optical illusion. It's Thanksgiving. The entire family's over at our house ("the din of dozens of cousins," and so forth). …

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