writing autotherapy #1

The most admirable thing about writers like Knausgaard or Murakami is that they manage to capture the fullness of the present with their words. They amplify the play of the internal life with the external world, and create not just a world but a life that I want to inhabit. It is no wonder that I am particularly drawn to Knausgaard when he is writing about his struggles with writing or the everyday concerns of fatherhood. Nor is it surprising that I find his interactions with women and friends especially compelling, particularly in his adult life rather than when he was a student. Murakami has a similar touch. In Norwegian Wood, the protagonist is at the university, mostly isolated but with a strange network of acquaintances. It has been years since I read 1Q84, but I remember a similar feeling. A story of disconnection, of an alternate world, accessed from an elevated viaduct in Tokyo. Writing this, my inclination is to elaborate on the urban, but that is not what I am interested in with these books. Instead, I am trying to focus on the way internal experience overflows external stimulus. Per my usual habit, I think, oh Bataille wrote about this Inner Experience, which I have yet to read, so maybe I should go get it. But like Nietzsche says (see?), when he is hard at work, one will not find him surrounded by books. Or, in the same vein, he loathes the person who would read in the morning, who would squander that time when both the body and the environment are refreshed. It is a time, for him, to climb.

But for Knausgaard, mornings are probably more like mine – a time to pack lunches and get kids off to school. As I write that, I recall one brief episode where he was up early, working on some translations. I fantasize about having a Nietzschean morning in the same way I want to walk along a creek, wearing my pea coat and my waterproof boots in the winter – another image produced by someone else’s artful composition. I am currently so alienated from myself that I even fantasize about making my adjunct commutes in the Northeast, rather than the Northwest, as if that would change anything. I know the origin of this image all too well: the interview with Dushko Petrovich about creating the Adjunct Commuter Weekly. As if his commute, fueled by McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches and conversation with a friend (envy), is any better than mine. If I keep this up, I am going to squander a life that might still have the potential to be satisfying. I beat myself up to teach my classes well, halfheartedly apply for jobs with absolutely no confidence, and continually either want to be someone else or try to do so. I soak in what others produce and dismiss what I do. I laugh at those who take any of “this” seriously and deride them for believing in this game, as if I am destined to make it as an unbeliever, as if success, at best, or an opening, at least, is going to fall in my lap. I find myself thinking that other academics have made it solely because they knew someone. It is making me a lonely and resentful person, and I am looking for an escape route.


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