I really like the few pages I’ve just read of Ellison’s Invisible Man. It’s a narrative voice I can jive with, so I think it’ll be a novel I want to complete.
Most days feel strange to me, but Tuesday seemed a bit better after I took a few ibuprofen and solved the issue of my mailbox. I went across the street to petition my neighbor for help. He’s very handy with practical stuff and makes difficult things look simple. He came up with a fix that could be temporary but also indefinite with some maintenance. I appreciated his help, and afterwards my mind rested easier. I knew that the post office wouldn’t get on my case and have an excuse to be rude to me. I think it’s very odd how people grow more callous and impersonal towards each other, as if road rage had spread from everyday traffic to all interpersonal relations. Roger, the same guy, said he’d never spoken with the neighbor in the house next to mine. We watched James drive up to his house in a new car, but Roger didn’t know his name.
While we talked in the street about human indifference, the clouds and sun stared down blindly on our little community, a word that has mostly lost its meaning.
It wasn’t a good day. My sister on the phone talked to me until my arm began to ache. Everything went south from there today. Now I believe that masochism is a reality in our daily behavior, as Freud pointed out a century ago, so the trick is to catch it and correct it. The enjoyment of pain is twisted and impure. A true reward is the experience of pleasure as pleasure, the real thing. Good is good, and negative is negative, but to a masochist the two are difficult to ferret apart from each other. Maybe none of this would have happened if I had never stopped drinking; if I still gave myself a foretaste of heaven. And yet that experience is a delusion of paradise, an artificial thing. Perhaps the question of happiness is a fairly involved philosophical problem that begins by asking yourself what is true happiness? It is especially hard to identify when nobody seems to give a damn about anything anymore. Everyone is numb as if we’d all sampled the same narcotic…
I keep meaning to revisit Mallarme to see about his idea of a spiritual universe that replaces God with himself. Though my French is not the best, I’m quite sure of what he was saying on that score. And who would I be to say that Mallarme was presumptuous? I would be more presumptuous than he was.
Since I was feeling lonely, I headed back to the store to buy myself a treat of a Coca-Cola. When I arrived, I was the only customer in the place. Also, Karen’s salon was closed for Monday, I guess. The air outside felt cold to me this afternoon, very wintry, and my energy level seemed rather low. The overcast sky looked metallic, gray and silver. I saw the work crew doing their thing on the far side of Maxwell Road but it didn’t affect my business. As I passed Kat’s house I wondered why I never see her anymore. I know they haven’t moved away yet. And Derek’s red house on the corner looks empty every time I go by it. I waved at Harry, Cherie’s nonagenarian dad, but he didn’t have anything to say. My little neck of the neighborhood is a ghost town in the afternoon, missing only the tumbleweeds. Now the sun appears momentarily, with no one else to notice. Even Roger has packed up his project and gone indoors. I don’t know which is more dead, the landscape or its denizens.