This was 11 years, 5 months, 23 days ago

and of course.

having turned on brian eno's music for airports in the airport, like so many others probably have, I walk through the terminals of SFO. it is quiet and empty and not altogether lonely, just with the hum of people moving when they need to. there are restaurants one-thirds full, silent people sitting in barstools turning their beer glasses thoughtfully, a kid playing on the ground with his one toy car. movement altogether appropriate and deserved. everything in its place, so to speak.


just before this I am in a plane from seattle to san francisco, lifting off. underneath is a city's worth of houses, streets, and people, shaded orange with the sun-setting-sun. we pass over a used car lot, and instantly I catch an undulating glimmer on the expanse of windshields, side mirrors, chromed grills, shined roofs. here is an image: of flashing, then crashing waves, the image of a school of fish suddenly turning in mid-motion that catch on late-night tv, back when you still watched tv, of iridescent scales on a fish when it's lying comatose and almost-dead on a circular wooden block, ready.

going and flying and lifting off I get this sudden presentness again, the kind I always get in airplanes and in airports, where it is as if everything distills itself to the bare minimum of moment, very mute and unsaid. taking off your shoes at the security checkpoint is just that; taking off one's shoes. I toss a receipt into the trash and it's just that, a flick of the arm and air-resistance-deformed parabola that results. nothing else. the faint hum of some janitor's vacuum cleaner ten gates away. someone's shuffling their feet, checking the departures panel. a girl wearing blue converses sits next to the wall, charging her laptop and reading a book.

at night, in this heterotopia, this special zone of movement, change, where all the lines are being redrawn and people enter this giant machine to be changed, moved, shuttled, transformed, altered, spun around and pointed into different directions -- there is me, pointed, pointing. going somewhere, and that's it; I have this image of a section of the airport, and a series of faint orange arrows overlaid on the scene, this vast multitude of movement. if you look closely there's probably some pattern to be discerned from this all; there's the tour group, going to florida, there are zones of stagnant waiting, for those taking a red-eye (like I am), and there are eddies and swirls and flows.

again, back on this plane lifting off I feel g-forces pressing me gently into my seat like a nurturing hand, almost, and I can't help but think that it's so valuable to move, to be moving, to be going somewhere, to want to go somewhere. more than anything really the kind of movement I embody is desire; to desire, to want, to want to want. how much that is important becomes distilled in this moment all of a sudden, when the vertical motion of the arm of a russian office worker that stamps a visa stamp is directly related to a flight to russia, st. petersburg, on trains. I want to walk, move, be disoriented, not know things. to step outside my self.

the magical moment that occurs when reading a sci-fi novel or opening a map for the first time is the moment of learning, comprehension, buying-into-a-mental-language. I want that vertigo, which is the vertigo of jumping over a frontier and thus creating a new one. I want that. on this plane moving upwards and me, enjoying the sensation of being pressed into my seat precisely because it comes from acceleration and advance.

I sweep up the latent quiet energy that seeps out of the quietest hour on planes, the lazy terminal hours, and pack it away to counter the movement of new york, because sometimes there's stagnancy in always-moving-fast, and there's a startling rapidity in the force with which these airports make me want to go, go, go. all of a sudden I want, am a vector facing new york. I want, I want, and I want, and I want.

I am reading DFW's the broom of the system. it is quite wonderful, to say the least, and there's much that can be read into it, such as the depressed-philosophy-genius figure, or DFW's fascination with institutions of treatment (the nursing home, Infinite Jest's halfway house), or the mechanisms of therapy that are so literally mechanized, or DFW's own self-loathing of over-intellectual over-literary personas (the second-order vainness itself being a multi-order awareness of this second-order vainness and no doubt a tertiary vainness, of being aware of being aware of being vain; also, rick vigorous's florid and (quite entertaining) internal dialogue that is implied to be so closely tied to his literal impotence)). to name a few.

but really sitting in seat 30B on this flight, all of a sudden the thing that pops to the forefront of my mind is the sensation I had when I learned that he died, killed himself, which is most probably the feeling that so many others had. this is vain, yes, I will acknowledge that and dismiss it immediately: to be quite honest the reaction I had was something along the lines of "I could have said something, and he wouldn't have killed himself", or such. as if I had some magic words to say, I think, and then I correct myself and think, I do -- that is, everyone does; that is, to that imaginary author I have these magic words, and to my imaginary author it would have worked, and what I would have said goes something like this:

,hey david, or dave, dave wallace, with your bandana, I'm not going to try to say anything about you, because really the point of me talking to you is quite honestly all about me; I've read many of your works, I don't really write 'works'. but all I want to say is that everything lies not in achieving but in wanting, and I know you've written two brilliant novels. but really lately myself I've been realizing that everything's about the want, not the endgoal. I know you've been stressing out about perfection, and that's why your friendly editors at harper's have been sending you out for piddly-word-count assignments which are really pretenses for you to get over your overachieving self, because really what's great is when you feel like you've already achieved and then comes the fun, the real you. really all that lies there is this drive towards wanting, and before that you're stressing out too much about completing, and all I have to say is once you let yourself want, not want to finish but want to want, then I think everything opens up, and you've got to stop this perfectionism nonsense, because you've flourished in spite of your perfectionism, not because of it. what happens when you don't fully succeed is that the project wrestles itself out of your hand and turns into something else that you could have never imagined. and, dear dave, is how evolution starts. strictly speaking, mutation is what drives evolution. the little epsilon of failure-to-be-accurate is the starting point of all change and progress. so come and write and let yourself down with the best of us and the worst of us.
I am reading DFW's the broom of the system. it is quite wonderful, to say the least, and there's much that can be read into it, such as the depressed-philosophy-genius figure, or DFW's fascination with institutions of treatment (the nursing home, Infinite Jest's halfway house), or the mechanisms of therapy that are so literally mechanized, or DFW's own self-loathing of over-intellectual over-literary personas (the second-order vainness itself being a multi-order awareness of this second-order vainness and no doubt a tertiary vainness, of being aware of being aware of being vain; also, rick vigorous's florid and (quite entertaining) internal dialogue that is implied to be so closely tied to his literal impotence)). to name a few.

but really sitting in seat 30B on this flight, all of a sudden the thing that pops to the forefront of my mind is the sensation I had when I learned that he died, killed himself, which is most probably the feeling that so many others had. this is vain, yes, I will acknowledge that and dismiss it immediately: to be quite honest the reaction I had was something along the lines of "I could have said something, and he wouldn't have killed himself", or such. as if I had some magic words to say, I think, and then I correct myself and think, I do -- that is, everyone does; that is, to that imaginary author I have these magic words, and to my imaginary author it would have worked, and what I would have said goes something like this:

,hey david, or dave, dave wallace, with your bandana, I'm not going to try to say anything about you, because really the point of me talking to you is quite honestly all about me; I've read many of your works, I don't really write 'works'. but all I want to say is that everything lies not in achieving but in wanting, and I know you've written two brilliant novels. but really lately myself I've been realizing that everything's about the want, not the endgoal. I know you've been stressing out about perfection, and that's why your friendly editors at harper's have been sending you out for piddly-word-count assignments which are really pretenses for you to get over your overachieving self, because really what's great is when you feel like you've already achieved and then comes the fun, the real you. really all that lies there is this drive towards wanting, and before that you're stressing out too much about completing, and all I have to say is once you let yourself want, not want to finish but want to want, then I think everything opens up, and you've got to stop this perfectionism nonsense, because you've flourished in spite of your perfectionism, not because of it. what happens when you don't fully succeed is that the project wrestles itself out of your hand and turns into something else that you could have never imagined. and, dear dave, is how evolution starts. strictly speaking, mutation is what drives evolution. the little epsilon of failure-to-be-accurate is the starting point of all change and progress. so come and write and let yourself down with the best of us and the worst of us.