“What offering can I make?” I muse, mostly piteously. Then, in judgement of my feeble capacities, standing back and perhaps posing a bit bulimically at the dinner table. There is only one offering to make: everything.
In this moment I am painfully aware of the limitations of writing. In non-fiction, I will offer you a position, gleaned from my experience, by cross-generational biases, and carefully spotlighted facts. In fiction, I will offer you, well, fiction: more diffracted offerings of my experience, cross-dress my apperception of the biases of others, and carefully disguise opinions as facts. Fiction is yet another position. The best fiction is that which honesty admits it is: Tolstoy, Durrell, Proust, Faulkner.
There is so much more to life than a position. The best we can offer a reader is a pleasant surprise. Enervated as I am in this moment, I do not feel very surprising. The morning agrees: slanted with mixed sunlight after pallid rain; temperature neither biting nor balmy; morning smells: still advertising fading glories of winter with a faint scent of leaf mold, like a wedge of cheese with unsure savories — beckoning with fecundity and a little danger.
I look at the news service I source, and decide they are a bit too much of a position. I immediately subscribe to several others presenting more of the marginalized world in a more intelligent way, hoping to change my reading habits.
The best offering, is once again, everything. My one-sided sources must be both abandoned and folded into our next offering to myself. That gives me more of the everything to offer.
What compromises more? “More” a very dangerous word. Until I give up trying to win possession of the “more” I will have obscured the more that is there. Winning is a position. Giving up winning it all is the first step to unpeeling the “more” that is really there beyond positions.
Eastern Masters proselytize the peeling of false self to reveal the spiritual engine within is a cheerful and energetic affair.
I think of Faulkner writing his difficult novel “As I Lay Dying,” (AILD). Certainly, there was a lot of energy needed to embody all that misery and hold it; and yet, without a deep connection to the misery, the narrative would have rung hollow and denigrating. Instead, it is a testimony to the utter luminescence of the human spirit, even when horrifically twisted.
It is tricky thing, this age of cheerfulness, this quest for “more.” I approach it gingerly. The “more” unpeels itself at its own pace, and manipulations to be a new, improved, more enlightened, New Age version of myself have fallen flat. Just no end to spiritual materialism. “Enlightenment in one lifetime;” and other illusionary dubious spiritual mixes of our culture with Indigenous one: all are versions of attempting to get away from it all. It is a pivoted position of the privileged. Are we to say that the unprivileged have nothing to offer?
The work is right here. Where I can dig in and see what more I have to offer. There is no retreat that is not yet another form of daily life. This moment of ennui, depression, apathy, and even my pissy toss away attitudes that overarching my current emotional framework, even they have something to offer. It is a universal human experience to despair of the cost benefit ratio of our difficulties. Only offering them daylight, however shaded, provides an inkling of what some small release would look like.
Even writing the above as my eyes dart ever searching for escape hatches feels old, as am I. I find nothing new to get excited about. I will need to get excited about the old. A crack where the light gets in. A fascination with the light is to be forgiven, New Age maxims or no.
All light flickers, experts can’t agree if Faulkner’s rotting work is a bedrock of neo-Classicist inspiration, or a sham. Some say there’s not enough of the Bundrens’ natural voice, and too much of Faulkner’s. Others say: “As it should be.”
All writing must touch us with both up and down. “Life was created in the valleys. It blew up into the hills on the old terrors, the old lusts, the old despairs. That’s why you must walk up the hills so you can ride down.” (AILD)
All light flickers: “It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That’s how the world is going to end.” (AILD) Best to offer everything; best to not go it alone — as much as possible. There will plenty enough of dark moments within necessary and inescapable solitudes. The families we are born into, the ones we choose, those of us who see such choices are pith. “Memory believes before knowing remembers. (AILD).” Best to render deepest care then, to honor both.