Drink, don’t think

After seven beers, I begin to remember.

[Quick aside— I love St. Augustine. Particularly, On Christian Doctrine. My previous post wasn’t meant as a slam, but a compliment to his perception of rhetoric. He argues that Christians should use whatever means necessary to make the truth convincing, and I agree. Sorry if it didn’t seem that way, AKMA.]

I went to an English department party. I skipped the Rhetoric department party, because the list of “nos” was longer than the bulk of the invitation: “no cats, no smoking, bring your own… etc.” It just didn’t sound like fun. The English department party was fun. But I suspect that I fatigue people, because I’m always thinking. Especially when I’m drinking.

I talked to the renaissance specialist about Marlowe texts, and asked for pointers regarding 17th century spiritual autobiographies. I talked to the romanticist about Blake, and his aversion to Hart Crane. I talked to the 18th century person about Defoe, and the paper I’m working on there. I just can’t stop working. I listened to a paper about Joyce’s Dubliners and thought about how it connected with healing rhetoric, and fractured selves. And I thanked Ralph Burns, (who loves Hart Crane) for the poem he wrote that helped me make sense of a bad situation a while ago.

In other words, I was myself. Blathering nonsense about teaching, and how it feels to step to the other side of the room. About the strange sense of guilt, of working out your ideas with an audience, and being paid to do it. And thinking, always thinking. The beer just makes it go faster and stronger. That’s why I don’t drink too much these days, it makes me think too much. About why people die, and why people walk away before you can develop your thought into something. Something you’re thinking about, that just won’t let go, even after they walk away. But at least these people know what I’m talking about, even if they don’t really care.

I drove home and felt connected with the car, making all the right choices and moving smoothly across the hillside. I thought about my compulsion to walk away from the crowd, and just gaze at the river sometimes. It’s a beautiful thing, all that mud flowing swiftly past. And the hillsides were so green, so beautiful. I can see why Hart Crane leapt into the sea. The end. No worries, anymore. But that wont’ be my end, I’m just to stubborn to give up. I swooped past the gallery that was the first to show Warren Criswell. I thought about his daughter, who never seems to leave me, in my head, as I rewrite history.

That’s what Brady’s paper on Joyce was all about. Joyce rewriting conceptions of himself in Dubliners. We all do that. We construct these mythic selves, which we either keep or discard as time goes by. Life sometimes seems like one long myth. I blurted out my site address, and offered to help him out if he needed it with photography, as he’s recently taken it up and has a few pieces in a show at the University gallery. Nothing too striking just yet, but he has some potential. Coming from literature, I think he has an advantage. Especially since he’s cracked the nut that the construction of self is largely mythic. Joyce’s narrators were constantly at odds with their previous selves, interrogating them and revising their own past. I think we all do that.

But this is just a drunken ramble, a bit of an effort to sober up before I go out again. Drinking is all too easy. Been there, done that. No amount of drinking will kill her, and seemingly, no amount of drinking will kill me either. That’s why I mostly quit drinking. It doesn’t work; as a suicide method it’s sloppy and takes too long. When I drink it’s just fuel, and I already have too much. I don’t need much more. Nobody understands much of what I say as it is; it gets worse if I slur my words. So, for penance I think I’ll go see a Grateful Dead cover band, to remind me to slow down and not be so serious. I really don’t like them, but friends may be there. If you can call people who are puzzled by me friends. At least because I keep them guessing, and they aren’t afraid to stand next to me on the dark.

But the sun always comes up, and they always fade away. And I go back to what I was doing before: thinking too much. Drinking? Oh yeah, I remember. The flames go higher, but they are so damn ineffectual they cannot burn anything.