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Sort of Autumn

 

We’re having this horribly warm autumn and I am sure it has nothing what so ever to do with climate change and we should all just keep burning coal like there is no tomorrow.

So this autumn we are still swimming.. but occasionally cool enough to begin bicycle riding, wear cardigans and stockings and put a doona over us and cook roast veggies, but mostly not. The only thing happy with the mild autumn is the kitchen garden, which is pleased as punch.

Truly gorgeous relationship advice from Heather Havrilesky in Ask Polly on The Awl. Read the whole thing, it’s wonderful.

People who fuck people then tell other people they want to fuck that the people they’re currently fucking are super fucking dull? These are bad people.

These are people who just don’t like other people. “Jesus, my girlfriend, I swear she breathes in oxygen and breathes out carbon dioxide sometimes,” they might as well say. Because when you go to bed with someone and wake up and eat together and go to bed together again and wake up? See, I’m already bored by both of you just writing it down. People get boring. An inescapable fact. PEOPLE. GET. BORING. People of all stripes, from all walks of life, get boring. Boring is not a reason for anything. You say someone you’re fucking is boring? The first thing I think is sweet god in heaven YOU my friend are BORING. Stop taking it out on everyone else.

Neruda on loss

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is shattered

and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

– Pablo Neruda

 

Incidentally, I once slept in his room.

It seems that this is what loneliness is designed to do: to provoke the restoration of social bonds. Like pain itself, it exists to alert the organism to a state of untenability, to prompt a change in circumstance. We are social animals, the theory goes, and so isolation is – or was, at some unspecified point in our evolutionary journey – unsafe for us. This theory neatly explains the physical consequences of loneliness, which ally to a heightened sense of threat, but I can’t help feeling it doesn’t capture the entirety of loneliness as a state.

A little while after I came home, I found a poem by Borges, written in English, the language his grandmother had taught him as a child. It reminded me of my time in New York, and of Wojnarowicz in particular. It’s a love poem, written by a man who’s stayed up all night wandering through a city. Indeed, since he compares the night explicitly to waves, ‘darkblue top-heavy waves … laden with/ things unlikely and desirable’, one might literally say that he’s been cruising.

In the first part of the poem he describes an encounter with you, ‘so lazily and incessantly beautiful,’ and in the second he lists what he has to offer, a litany of surprising and ambiguous gifts that ends with three lines I’m certain Wojnarowicz would have understood:

I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the

hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you

with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.

It took me a long time to understand how loneliness might be a gift, but now I think I’ve got it. Borges’s poem voiced the flip side of that disturbing essay I’d read in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine on loneliness’s consequences and mechanisms. Loneliness might raise one’s blood pressure and fill one with paranoia, but it also offers compensations: a depth of vision, a hungry kind of acuity.

Oh my goodness I am so enjoying Olivia Laing’s writing. This is from “Mw, myself and I” in aeon

You wouldn’t dare

Smacking women out of love… or something. This montage of films that Jezebel put together of men spanking women when smacking was part of a romance trope is kind of extraordinary to watch.

I liked Kim Brooks’article on motherhood and creativity but a lot of people didn’t. Here’s a very thoughtful reply to that article from Sarah Menkedick in Vela.

And yet, as a new mother, I wrote. And I needed to write. Not because I needed to make a name for myself or prove my genius, but because I needed to work my everyday experience into larger truths, to see it anew and connect it to a bigger realm. I needed to honor that everyday experience by scrubbing it and scrubbing it into polished, spot-on sentences that reflected it clearly.

It is rare for me to write this way. So much of what I had written before had an intellectual motor behind it, the wheel of my brain churning and churning out product. This writing did not. It both illuminated and paled behind the quotidian, the acts— huge, breathtaking, and so small as to be nearly invisible—of parental care.

In many ways, I think this writing made me a better mother. It made me pay attention to mothering, which I began to see as an incredibly complex, difficult, beautiful, personal, universal realm so underserved by literature; it made me see my daughter the way Annie Dillard saw Tinker Creek, the way Peter Matthiessen saw the labyrinthine ravines around the Crystal Monastery, as intricate mysteries worthy of rapt, careful attention.

There’s much to love here and it discusses many important points in reply to Brooks’ like who says mothering isn’t creative energy and who says the purpose of art is to disrupt.. but, controversial… I have a bit of ‘wait and see’ reaction whenever new mothers talk about the journey of motherhood and what is and isn’t.

Many of the fathers I spoke to admit that showing vulnerability to other men can be difficult. Daniel, the divorced dad in Brooklyn, recalls that, growing up, mealtimes with his brothers were a kind of “blood sport”. Even now, he observes an “impulse to snuff out every manifestation of weakness as it’s being expressed”. So it makes some sense that many men set their sights on having a son. Raising a boy affords fathers a chance to be both strong and sensitive, to be powerful yet tender. With a son, a father may believe he has been delivered an adoring male ally in an atmosphere – the home – that often feels like the domain of women.

This profound sense of kinship comes with a similarly profound sense of responsibility. Many of the men I spoke to said they understood it was their job to guide their boys through the choppy waters of adolescence. “It’s just a responsibility assumed,” says Tom, a father in his late 50s with one teenage boy. “Sometimes my wife will say, ‘Hey look, I would like you to talk to our son about such and such’, but really it’s not something we even need to talk about.” Louise, the mother with a teenage boy in London, agrees that “the father’s influence with a boy is absolutely key.” She adds that male friends with sons have confided to her that they are more apprehensive about abandoning their families. “They worry more about the guilt and the damage they may cause.”

This entire article, “It’s a boy thing” by Emily Bobrow in The Economist’s 1843 is fascinating and.. disturbing. The preference for sons by fathers has been analysed from multiple perspectives but I find the one above some of the more interesting for me. Parenting taps into something profound about sense of self. It does not surprise me that men, as fathers, might feel a particularly strong attachment to sons given the opportunity it presents for them to be safely close to another male and to also repair some of their own childhoods as emotionally isolated little boys by recreating them and re-imagining them.

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