Not being able to read is a strange sensation, and not one that I have frequently felt. I always thought sadness was the engine of thought, or creativity, or that unspecific need to search outside of oneself. Sadness, after all, underscores so much poetry and fiction, so much of what we hold up as canonical, so much of what in literature we believe to be true. And yet, for the first time in my life, I find no truth in this place. Even more disturbingly, no compulsion to seek truth.
Reading and writing are forms of trust. Trust that one’s emotional experience is important enough to be expressed. Trust that words can give experience shape, that the act of articulation can bring some kind of clarity. Trust in one’s self to be moved, to empathize and identify, to, in a word, care.
What is more treacherous than caring when one is sad? Than caring about what is right, or who is noble, or how to be honest? Sadness is completely preoccupied with perpetuating itself. It makes me feel dumb and boring. It isn’t romantic, or stimulating, or productive. Sometimes it makes me feel an ugly form of self-satisfaction, a grim smugness at my own depth.
Not being able to read makes me realize how much we give of ourselves when we read, how much we surrender our protective boundaries. We allow ourselves to be invaded, mentally rearranged, to think things we have not thought and see things we have not seen and as a result know things we do not know.
When I can’t read it is because I don’t want to fucking know anything else because I don’t care, because my bed is better, because people are terrible, because I’m curled up like an arthritic claw and I like it that way.
“The thing about patriarchy is that individual men, gay and straight, are often really wonderful people who you love deeply, but they have internalized some really poisonous shit. So every once in a while they say or do something that really shakes you because you’re no longer totally certain they see you as a human being, and you feel totally disempowered to explain that to them.”—
Did I ever mention that my roommate — the lovely one — makes her own bread, with her own yeast? She is supposed to be working with one of the bakers in this video, who will be moving to Toronto soon. The other day, she let the bread rise in the kitchen for 8 hours and it was the most delicious loaf of hers to date. (We each devoured half of a small loaf.)