In search of lost time, Part XIX: Fourth of July, Seaside Park
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor'd and sorrows end.
Always thought the end of this sonnet was a sentimental cop-out. Someone who is old enough to have dead friends and broken love affairs and has rehashed them in his mind until he brings tears to his eyes has a friend who restore those losses, end those sorrows and restore the lost time with a mere thought? Who is this friend? Where I can meet this person? Does everyone else have someone in their life who can do this for them? Am I missing something?
Only God can restore the years the locusts ate, and restore the dead to the living, and regain time. Not art, Proust's heroic attempt noted. In the present, we can learn to live with our losses, and to fill our lives with new people and new service. But we cannot replace what is lost.
When I realize that she is gone, perhaps gone forever, a great void opens up and I feel that I am falling, falling, falling into deep, black space. And this is worse than tears, deeper than regret, or pain, or sorrow; it is the abyss into which Satan was plunged. There is no climbing back, no ray of light, no sound of human voice, or human touch of hand.
-Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
I used to read this and think of K-. Southside Johnny on the radio I know we had to try, both of us 18 and headed to the beach every day reach up and touch the sky our whole lives lying before us like an unattended Pac-Man machine and we with four quarters and 20 confident patterns in our heads; dots uneaten, power dots there for the taking, a bunch of ghosts either in a box or moving in predictable ways, dreams undashed, hopes uncrushed, faith unlost, our hearts meaty and spicy and flexible and tender like so many uncooked enchiladas ... our souls unaware of the giant existential whack-a-mole game being prepared for us, ready to smack our surf- and cheap-vodka intoxicated heart-pastries straight into the simmering, unfiltered deep animal-fat fryer. There, completely unlike the tempering of steel, the enchiladas would cook through, the ingredients became fixed, and there was no un-deep-frying them and adding in a little more spice or a little less steak, no matter if you cried like Gilgamesh at the loss of his best friend Enkidu, no matter if you crossed the ocean in search of his soul. I know. I crossed the ocean. Both ways. I didn't find immortality, or K- (who was shacked up on this side of the ocean, anyway), but others ready to fry the ole enchilada a little more. If you follow my point and my doubtless ill-conceived decision to melange the hell out of my metaphors.
Or maybe well-conceived. 'Cuz I feel a little better now.
You hear the cops finally busted Madame Marie for telling fortunes better that they do
This boardwalk life for me is through, you oughta quit this scene, too
S----, the aurora's rising behind us, the pier lights our carnival life forever
How long is forever, anyway?
Questions for Discussion:
1. What are some of Bill Shakespeare's complaints about his life?
2. Do you buy his solution? Who is this watery tart that so soothes his losses?
3. According to the author, why is Proust full of shit?
4. What does the pier light? Use diagrams.
5. Count the metaphors in the most ridiculous paragraph of this "essay". Write the number down on a piece of paper and swallow it.
6. Is a heart really like an enchilada? Describe the difference between a burrito and an enchilada? Are either deep fried? Intellectual property theft alert: Will Cynthia Heimel sue for theft of this metaphor, or will she regret she ever made it and forsake it altogether?
7. Who is Madame Marie? Why is she arrested? How does this arrest subvert or vitiate the themes of the piece — or conversely, how does the inclusion of Madame Marie support the theme of this piece? Explain using clay.
8. Has the author crossed the Indian Ocean? If not, how does he know that immortality is not on the other side?
9. Fill in the blank: I know we had to try, reach up and _____________. True or false: K- used to raise her arm as if to _____________ more than 50 percent of the time when the song was played. When her arm was raised in that position, her boyfriend would start to slip off her shirt. Does that make them young lovers or fornicators? Be prepared to defend your answer on Judgment Day.
10. What is the salient difference between Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man? How does this bear on the underlying themes of this piece?