Among large plans and changes: British citizenship, Zürich training, a big financial transfer – and small: a new jacket and shoes, a trip to northern Italy paid for by the the university, and most startling a re-engagement with two research projects that had dropped off the radar (just as though I were as productive as I actually ought to be) –...
an ugly backwash into the chaos of ridiculous mistakes I've made in my life: simply enough, a phone call from a student loan collection agency, with a long lecture from a clearly tired, exasperated woman about my irresponsibility and the ways that the US government will come after me. Not, of course, the first time I've heard disquisitions on this subject; but the timing is a bit nerve-wracking, considering all the financial moves I've made lately.
And the result, an anxious, tired couple of days, with bad dreams... and a guilty, spooked sense that whatever plans I try to make for a financial or healthy or professional future are doomed by old messes, all of which were made by me of course. (And it doesn't help that the Tories are now, horribly, in power – pretty dispiriting: like a return to the eighties and nineties, to what was for me a chain of unsuccessful jobs managing performance groups whose money was being taken away, with a miserable denouement in an apartment building that had barely graduated from its past as a meth lab, surrounded by neighbors who were homeless, babbling, disintegrating, or on the edge of disaster...)
Probably all this sounds ridiculous to you: but there are things that follow you like the Furies, the Erinyes; and of course there's the problem of being a slave to the modern world of banking and interest. It is strange to read the new collection of 'lost' stories by Ernest Bramah, where he speaks of fictional imperial Chinese who have to somehow get out from under poverty, the enmity of high officials, the sheer oppression of a vast and ruthless system; but of course since Bramah writes amusing stories there is always a sudden and near-magical release from bondage, as the evil mandarin has his head chopped off, or the inheritance appears on the doorstep.
I dreamed, again, of that last episode of Dollhouse: not the one where the world disintegrates, but the one after it, where a small body of people have retreated to a house in the country without electricity or running water, where they can reconstruct a possible life while the world goes mad. I know I've badgered some friends lately about living in a group on retirement – it is derived from this image: that when the world gets to be too much, or when my alternative is living alone in a small room until I qualify for a rest home, that there might be the possibility of creating family in some distant place. (And yes, I know: this may merely resemble Aesop's grasshopper trying to convince the ant to make the entrance to the anthill bigger... hmm. Entomology recapitulates schizogony, or something like that.)
Is it possible – even probable – that many writings about revolution, change, anarchy, represent at least partly a barely hidden wish to escape from one's own official records and duties? (Not, maybe, something as trivial as student loans; maybe more like old convictions, associations with the politically dangerous, and so on.) Although it's always been difficult to take Ezra Pound's Canto XLV against usurers entirely seriously – yes, it certainly is powerful, but it's not exactly poetry, is it? – maybe some of his mental disintegration and strange decisions came from that same desperation, from a need to escape old mistakes. Or think of Nicholas Mosley's Hopeful Monsters, that beautiful but eerie novel, and the sheer madness of Europe in the 1930s: it is certain that people, among their fears and desperate plans, were also hoping, maybe only in their dreams and secret fantasies, that their responsibilities would also be exploded when governments fell and armies marched past.
I'll get over this, of course. I'm already halfway over it: I know that if the letters become strident, the demands become impossible to ignore, I can get away with small payments – although it is hard to believe that I would ever pay everything off.
But it's disorienting: just when parts of life, of existence, feel more optimistic, more possible, and even when I stop mooning over long-lost wishes to focus on present realities; when I feel, after a long time of helplessness, as though I'm in charge of my own future; it's so maddening to be bitten, once again, in the backside, as in a dogfight you can't win. If only life had a rewind/erase button....