Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Discomfort

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Discomfort

Article excerpt

I'm looking for a mighty forum, a Parthenon, where I can express my story. And I'm looking for the story. I'm looking for the story of my life. I'm looking to tell you how I feel, who I am, what I am, in some kind of spiritually useful way. But I have to confess to you that I'm feeling cramped.

This modern life is crowding me. Fences everywhere. Fences in my head. Fences to keep me out, to protect me, to protect the people on the other side of the fence from me. Warnings everywhere, on buildings, on bottles, on books, even on toys. I'm seeing a lot of red lights, stop signs, no parking, prohibitions, police tape, barricades. And faces that say no way, don't do it, don't say it, don't act it, hold back, lighten up, stay away, text me, and for the love of whatever's holy in heaven, don't touch me.

I'm feeling the overproduction. Too much stuff. The distance between what's brand new and wonderful and what's completely useless garbage has narrowed to the width of a salesman's smile. I feel like I have a million CDs and no music.

Among other things, overproduction has destroyed my deep love for money. Remember when money was fun, spending it was fun, getting it was fun, counting it was fun? Remember that good old money that made you feel happy? Remember that fat fistful of silver coins you occasionally had that rang with the upbeat melody of prosperity? Remember that good old money? Well, overproduction has ruined that good old money.

All we have now is money that buys crap and stuff to replace other crap and stuff that's crossed over from being treasure to being trash. All we have now is money that creates obstructions to happiness. I don't know. Money has disappointed me. It isn't helping against the onslaught.

And there is an onslaught, very like a flood, which requires resistance. Gotta push back, on the one side, against the crush of stuff, and on the other side, against the walls of prevention energy, but that effort creates discord, damage, strife, the arrival of police, the distracting carnival of force. It is not an easy time to find a big tent or an elephant to put in it. It's like Genesis has been ongoing and God just keeps making stuff, but the Bible guys got tired of writing down what it was, and now somebody's gotta tell the Big Guy to Stop. That's enough. You have created enough. Stop with the Styrofoam cups and nail salons at least!

Or is that us creating all this stuff? Is there a distinction between God and us?

Same thing with the commandments. There are actually millions of commandments but Moses just quit writing them down and left after ten. God is still up on Sinai dictating commandments but everybody lost interest. That's why we all feel guilty. Everything we do is wrong. We just don't know it because there are all these invisible unrecorded commandments we're breaking. We're actually not supposed to do anything.

Or is that just us, feeling guilty that we're alive, adding to the problem by being alive?

I am not a pessimist and this is not a rant.

I'm looking for a mighty world where I can finally have the size of love story my heart demands. And I am looking for the one to love in that story. I am looking for a love that defeats time and the rot of death, a love that allows for rampant rainforests of poetry, pink lights and impossible gestures, that unfolds over decades if not centuries, that inspires artists and accountants and pastry chefs, that leads the way to a finer culture, a more perfect society. I need banker kings to put themselves at risk and pay for it all, pay for the romantic effort, pay till their treasuries implode.

And if I want something that doesn't exist, I want to declare that I am right and the world as it is is wrong, the world as it is needs to change. That's what art is all about. And not just art. That is what love and philosophy and spiritual experience are all about. Having visions and sharing them with such a conviction that they become real. …

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