With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
Every day I feel closer to writing my novel. Sure, I’ve been toying with essays, much inspired by Sedaris, Rakoff, Als… but writing about myself is less appealing these days.
Not in blog form. I’ll keep doing that. Because that’s different. (grin)
And there’s much to shovel out of my persona topics.
But between my job, my personal life, my marriage, my book reading and my impressions of the nation’s seam slowly tearing I feel I’m missing out on joining the larger conversation.
Cornel West was arrested in Ferguson, MO as an act of civil disobedience.
I recently read Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night, about protesting the Vietnam War, in which he attended in order to be arrested as an act of civil disobedience.
The idea being, when a well-known person is arrested it shines a national/international light on the ugliness being protested.
And on Friday, my wife and I attended a concert celebrating 20 years of South African freedom from apartheid. Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela and Dave Matthews (who unbeknownst to me is South African) performed. It was a rousing jubilant experience most likely available on YouTube or the like, despite the venue’s verbal and written warnings about photography or video during the show.
We came away from the concert refreshed. So much love borne from so much pain. And I have finally got why people like Dave Matthews so much. Making fun of his nervous tic-like singing and close bodied guitar playing has been a pastime of mine for almost as long as South Africa has been free. Musicians rub me the wrong way and he was one. Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen are two others.
Seeing Dave Matthews live, on stage, so talented, so passionate, and a genuineness about him. And though he was clearly the reason why many patrons bought tickets even though he was merely a guest for a few songs, when he was on stage, he backed up guitar along with other session players while Masekela and Mahlasela were the featured act. A superstar without ego. (Incidentally, my wife has been a Hugh Masekela fan for years and I am happily coming late to the party.)
Dave Matthews has turned me around. Maybe Billy and Bruce, if I saw them live would do the same.
There is definitely more stirring going on. Thinking about my novel that never was. I have some good ideas but I’ve never been able to put it all together. I am reminded by the film Get Shorty when Chili Palmer says he has an idea for a movie and then after leaving his idea in a cliffhanger situation Harry Zimm asks about details left unresolved and Chili reminds him it is only an idea for a film.
I once spent an hour at a Princeton bar telling co-workers the novel I was writing, laying out the mystery from start to finish. Other people came by and stayed to listen. I had everyone’s attention and was even thrilling myself because I was suddenly inspired to invent in the moment and change ideas and twists around as I spoke, finally landing the reward, the dessert, how the ending should be. The crowd was shocked, speechless. One of the guys spoke saying he’s had to piss for fifteen minutes but has been holding it in because he didn’t want to miss what happened next.
That was thirteen years ago.