The odd mood of the past few days – not a unique mood for me, but one that seems to be holding steady more than usual – is perhaps emphasized by the combination of having enough space to stay in that mood (it is our Easter holiday, I have a lot of work to do at home or in the library, but relatively few necessary contacts) and recurrent impulses to stay with it, even when it is reflected in accidental meetings with strangers.
The sense of sadness – but with a certain calm, and clarity.
A day of procrastinating, after a week of procrastinating, after years of – well, you get the drift: which finally fell into about three hours of intense and semi-productive editing. With constant background noise from my own mind about how miserable this all is, how useless I am, etc. – a familiar litany, especially around this project, out of all of them. And again that illusory quality – the project itself slightly unreal and contingent to the world, and my anxieties very unreal, but they shadow everything.
A play that wasn't really very good – Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare's cheesier from my point of view; Propeller, an all-male troupe, made it as energetic as they could, but it still seemed flimsy, a faintly empty event. (As there's space for a brief flash of a review – the Adriana was extremely good, putting on a barrage of successful coups de theâtre, and a handsome Doctor Pinch did one short but impressive turn; the others were also good, but not good enough to make me care about the traditionally silly separated-at-birth stuff – which is in any case the outer shell of theatre at best, like baroque opera, or Edwardian melodrama.)
And so: actors, physical energy and sound, the overlap of the tawdry and the funny and the not-quite-real – and the slight failure of skilled professionals who can't quite manage to bring an illusion into presence; perhaps emphasized too much by a set and production that projected the tawdry, the shallow, the dispiritingly unsuccessful imitation of reality. (Brits, and comic pseudo-Mexican accents... some of them simply shouldn't try.)
A late dinner at one of our small city's new overpriced, overhyped celebrity restaurants – a lovely young waitress, warm and friendly, and me feeling oddly dramatic myself, like a mystery man alone at a corner table; with a sense of reality (the food, the woman's smile) mixed with unreality (the slightly false, commercially amplification of the food and restaurant, the slightly disjunct though sincere expression of her hopes for a life in politically conscious theatre).
Later, in bed, reading a Chinese fairy tale on an electronic screen... a fragment of history in it, but the details are wrong: but it's a fairy tale, so who cares? And the comfort of the story fades quicky, as the story disintegrates into fragments and footnotes after two pages... the many other electronic texts around it in the program, really too many to see: novels, stories, plays. Philosophy. Psychology....
Scraps of news that are threatening and oppressive – plus fragments that go in the other direction: is this the illusion of the internet, where people grasp at a fragment of a thing and trumpet it as the whole – or merely the illusion typical of those past middle age, that the world is perpetually getting worse? Which I don't believe in any case; but it has been an ugly couple of weeks. The large structures and historical/political waves back and forth – never entirely real in themselves, interpretations and partial stories (not to mention all the falsehoods and altered stories). I don't normally like investing too much energy in them – but they are distracting lately, and create anxiety – or the shadows of anxiety.
At 3 a.m., or now 4 a.m.: it has been so cold this week, but with flashes of spring – and now you can hear the birds outside: sounds that seem late and slightly out of kilter this year. Birds are morning sounds, but it is still absolutely dark out – the processes that hold the world together keep moving forward, but again, not quite in sync with themselves, or with us.
A Buddhist, or a Sufi or any of a number of others, would of course say: perceptions seem disconnected from feelings because they are, things do not seem real because they are not. The sensory seems off because it is in the mind, the imagination fails because it always will. Of course, of course, but –
Perhaps the birds know.
Well: back to bed....