12 September 2010
06 September 2010
02 September 2010
01 September 2010
Earlier this week I had a visitation from someone most of us would consider “on the fringe of society”, a misleading expression for me since I always envision a flapper dress or fun bathroom area rug. This person was not swinging pearls, nor was he feeling “Zestfully clean”.
I won’t condescend and call him a lost soul, but akin to a Lovecraftian protagonist who has brushed up against the violent crags of madness and despair that mar our surfaces and betray the presence of a slumbering strangeness underneath the skin of the earth…or something like that.
He came to me through my job, which usually involves encountering young people at interesting and often exciting points in their lives. It also entails encountering the derailed and disoriented, who have taken to wondering if it may be possible to allay regret with a philter of absurd hope.
Survival dictates inurement. Steeling oneself in the face of irrationality and subtle instability is not so hard once you install a colossal emotional strainer to filter the worst of it. But the tiny bits, the grains of a person always sneak past, and in my case I aid and abet. I’ve a habit of fiddling with chinks in my armor until they multiply.
I refuse to get into the specifics of his life. It would be reprehensible to use it to evoke pity or humor or reflection. His storied past was not the threat. Listening to him rant and expound upon the things he’s seen and the alien lands he’s inhabited was the same as pressing my ear to a shell to hear the roaring echo of a far-flung oceanic realm. What struck the chords of fright were the small moments, and the realization that something is still living and hungry inside of the conch.
It was the very end of our meeting. In respiratory terms, the moment I stopped holding my breath and let my guard down. He was gathering his things, backpacks and notebooks, but stopped to give me his “business card”; one section of a sheet of paper with his contact information and the title “Artist Extraordinaire” printed on it in 9 neat rectangles.
He tried to tidily tear one for me, but the paper wouldn’t cooperate. I looked down and watched the jagged line obliterate Times New Roman. And keep going. And cut his hand clean off. And open up the entire room. And close the space between us. And make me leap backwards into a lie about another appointment and yes I am so sorry but I really have to go. And I wish you good luck. And I hope you find what you are looking for. And I wish I wasn’t a liar.
It’s a harsh alchemy that transmutes mundane into agony into benign inhumanity.