At the lowest point of light, time, and the year: that dark still point before the cycle turns back upward.
It was interesting to see some people get upset over the entire Mayan-end-of-the-world meme – furious that people would dare discuss something not scientifically proven. But of course part of its attraction for many – even for me – is the ambiguous attitude towards some huge change or ending: those of us who get tired of daily life as it is being lived these days may want a change – even a disastrous one. This isn't psychologically or culturally a huge surprise; consider it a way of blowing off steam.
A festive party at a local bar tonight, given by Hannabiel and Yllis: rich and heartening food, crowds of people, and their band. I was standing around chatting to students, some of whom I'd never spoken to personally before – one who took courses from me three or four years ago, and some of my current students. I kept getting welcome compliments on my lectures – evidently I'm more fun to watch than some; and students have tended to associate me with the wide-ranging ideas I teach in the cultural theories class.
I noticed myself tending to get into rather deep, directly personal conversations with all of them – a beautiful girl, a rough lad and his girlfriend, a gay guy, and a boyish one (the one who graduated a few years ago)... relationships, life plans, deeper feelings about things....
It reminded me of a time in the mid-80s in West Hollywood, when I was secretary and gofer for the astoundingly handsome Steve Schulte (as a Colt model he was renamed Nick Chase, and became the most famous of the entire Colt stables). Steve was fairly disorienting to work with in person, because in addition to being insanely sexy, he was also extremely kind, deeply honest, and very serious (aargh, just kill me now). But somehow I got work done, and managed not to stutter too much or fall out of my chair when he gave me my instructions each morning.
One day those instructions involved driving to see writer Paul Monette and getting him to sign some document or other. Steve casually told me, as I left: just so you know, Monette has no small talk. I wasn't quite sure what this meant, but when I got to Monette's house in the hills I learned: even though I was just the guy who had brought a form to sign, he had me sit down and have a drink, and he wanted to talk about what I intended to do in life, what it meant, what I found important in the world... quite amazing really; and since I'm always willing to talk about myself, I had a field day.
This was before AIDS redefined Monette's life, before his partner got ill and died, before he wrote his final memoirs and poems. But it left me deeply impressed: such a commitment not to waste time on trivialities... when you read some of the novels, you can see the same constant deep reflection on everything.
I am of course much more casual about my use of time. But I can see that, as I've gotten older, I do tend to jump into deeper levels of conversation with people.
Perhaps I am becoming, at least occasionally, someone who has no small talk....