Sunday, March 1, 2009

5 things about listlessness

Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass). (1915-23). Oil, varnish, lead foil, lead wire, and dust on two glass panels. 109 1/4" x 69 1/4". The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  1. The definition: "Lacking energy or disinclined to exert effort; lethargic" doesn't exactly describe the listlessness I am experiencing; that definition paints it as unromantic melancholy when instead I feel mildly joyous but unable to pinpoint that thing.
  2. Like wandering the bookstore a bit ago, looking for something to read. Reading everything available by Roberto Bolaño was an easy bracket in which to contain my activity in that area, but I'm finished, and after 2666, I need something that takes me less than a month to read. I'm thinking something by Knut Hamsun, partly because of this NYT article about the duplicity of pride and shame Norway feels for one of their literary giants and how much I loved Hunger when I read it in college, but even in that I feel decided uncommitted.
  3. And why do I need to feel particularly committed to do it? It's at the library. I love going to the library and checking things out and soaking in the potential energy of the library, all those books waiting to be read by someone someday when they get around to it. And it is set up with an easy out: just return it and only myself, the library, and whatever covert government agency that monitors my library activity know the difference should it not work out.
  4. Unless I post it to goodreads*, which for better or worse, spurs me on to read more than my usual steady state would. Maybe that is the truth in social networking, that it is a tool to actualize your dreams for yourself on a very manageable scale. You are not called to climb mountains or learn German, just do something interesting enough with your stinking life that merits tweeting from your phone.
  5. The problem with that is that the posted status withers under scrutiny, immediately, like a self-portrait scratched out in dust encountering the slightest breeze. Which is OK, my favorite piece of art by the artist that best embodies the flimsiness of professed status, Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), is partly scrawled in dust, and involves a multitude of catalogs that still fail to explain any of it at all, and yet there it is, broken, incomplete, and fascinating, long after the maker himself has become dust.
The cover of Richard Hamilton's typographic version of The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even

*where, incidentally, I am not currently reading any of the books on my "currently reading" list.

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