Air.

January 21, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Posted in writing | 18 Comments
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There is a constant atmospheric pressure insistently determined to create a sense of smallness. But inside me was an equally constant pressure outward, toward grandness and the large gesture. I wanted to assert that all those names you know, Shakespeare et al, Al who?, Capone?, were mere humans but they did not live in an age where someone had crossed every horizon only to meet someone else crossing in the other direction.

It was the urge to create not merely repeat. As a young man I mistook it for destiny and then in my middle age for arrogance. This sentence should start with the word ‘now’, as in, ‘Now I…’ He coughs. The nurse is from the Philippines.

I thought it was about attaining immortality, not so much a fear of death more a dread of not existing, and as a consequence forgetting to remember would be an invaluable skill. I discovered the complete unreliability of memory. She complains that I should only push the red button if I cannot breath at all but I like to watch her walk away. I had a dog. It died as all dogs do.

There is a constant atmospheric pressure, he coughs again reaches for the oxygen mask. The nurse is from the Philippines, “Still breathing, old man?” as she checks his chart. I liked to watch her walking away.

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18 Comments »

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  1. Note to the editor – The tenses are deliberately and carefully inconsistent. Please don’t change them.

  2. Ahhh! There is something very familiar in the air.

  3. This is so brilliant and moving I can’t quite believe it. It seems different from your other work, somehow. I love the message, the pressure from in and out, the changing perceptions of it over time and then the level of the pressurized oxygen, the nurse and pushing the red button. This is definitely one of my favorites.

  4. to create not merely repeat, the best challenge in a few words and covers the broadest scope of trailing creativity’s heartfelt spirit wanting to be free of the costume as well as the armature. the imagery and contrasts, amazing absolutely a jewel, thank you

  5. As a young woman, I mistook it for destiny as well….

    Paul…kuddos! Another magnificent piece – one I easily slipped into. And I believe I recognize that nurse.

  6. Oh how I love fucking with tenses.

  7. love this old man, his reflections, his movement through time

  8. “not so much a fear of death more a dread of not existing”–awesome line.

    Also, I love love love the references to air pressure because air pressure is relative to what’s inside and outside…which can seem so very different in youth.

  9. If I were to repeat the lines that I like, I would be repeating this entire piece. I can relate to it and recognize pieces of myself, then I am saddened that I relate to it and suddenly miss my younger self, and then I cry for the poor dead dog.

  10. very intense and interesting.. are you located in the philippiens? I am as well. Respond promptly, pleeease 🙂 thanks
    Yes ma’am. No, I’m in Australia. Thankyou for your comment.

  11. I love the opening sentences. I see life like that, atmospheric pressure telling me what I can do, say or be and pressure inside resisting and forcing me to do, say and be exactly as I want.. And death, yes, not afraid of death as of ceasing to exist in a manner I deem fit. The Nurse was the distraction. I loved the entire read.

  12. Sheesh, that nurse should ask for a transfer, haha. The drifting in and out reminds me of someone close to me just before they died. The things they said seemed to be childlike and questioning, always questioning whether it was about cows in the dark or why we exist. This reminded me not in a sad way, just as a reminder that you are such a wonderful articulator and that you create those thoughts which then germinate and create deja vu. Yep.

  13. When a friend of mine was very ill she focused on the nurse and the red help button to quell the panic. I remember her saying ‘As long as I can reach the button, I’m OK.’ Such an acute, moving observation from you.

  14. Paul, wouldn’t Randall be surprised that because of him (I enjoy his writing so much) I have now found you.

    “I thought it was about attaining immortality, not so much a fear of death more a dread of not existing, and as a consequence forgetting to remember would be an invaluable skill.”

    My post for tomorrow was kind of a hard one to write because of what I am going through. And then I came here and I read the above.

    How do you know this? Were you reading my mind? Have you been there?

    You have completely hit the nail on the head for me. I totally do not fear death — I know it is coming and I accept that. I don’t want immortality. But I completely dread not existing when everyone else I know and love will continue to exist.

    You have put into words for me, what I couldn’t put into words for myself.

    Thank you. xoxoxo

    Renee

  15. Paul, I read down the page and was wowed by it all; smacked in the brain by your changing style and an underlying sense of sadness. About halfway down the page I felt I was reading it backward, like a book back to front. My weird sense of direction? Different, very sharp edged, and brilliant writing as always. Miss running into you here and there. Love and best wishes sent your way. – Mimi.

  16. Paul, I did go into a reading of it. I like the
    inter wovenness of the tenses, the
    (historic-simple present tense [technique used in fiction[am i right?] ] ) to recall the happening, and the simple past to describe the happened.

    Autobiography is rarely confessional (propagandist) and mostly masquerading (political, historical, and celebrity stuff are abjectly famous) but in this piece, it has attained its stages of life as a motif, poignant with existential irony.

    I have to think deeply of the ironies made:

    a) “t hey did not live in an age where someone had crossed every horizon only to meet someone else crossing in the other direction”.

    b)”It was the urge to create not merely repeat. As a young man I mistook it for destiny and then in my middle age for arrogance”

    c) “I had a dog. It died as all dogs do.”

    d)“Still breathing, old man?” as she checks his chart. I liked to watch her walking away”

    Irony extends itself through these stages and becomes an allegory. Could it be read as a formed allegory through extended irony?

    The first of them, a — contemplated spatially and symbolically reveals traveler’s internalization. Journey, arrivals, destinies and meetings, are coupled with the unlike analogy and affirmed as the strength of an identity.

    The second, b, is provoking as the Kunstleromain … and it portrays the artist as portraits… and id-Prometheus ages resolves, time and age to a reflective stoic.

    The third, c is no dirge bu t a sensitive carnival touching the depth of the precious.

    The 4 has to be defined anew –a paradoxical irony ….” good for you” …

    Thanks for helping me to read your words patiently and silently as fingers rattled on the keyb0ard. I have been an audience (audient) actively to your words unlike an audience who are active and dead in themselves , alive to a reception called the screen. I relished doing this as I am no longer the “public” entertained. Thanks.

  17. How did I not see this :(? Loved this one too, especially the “horizon crossing thing” I was reading a non-fiction commentary on fiction (at least i hope s0) that said that in the absence of great interal/external struggle, artists tend to deepen the known ground, and only in its presence does the horizon broaden across the endless… umm…

  18. “It was the urge to create not merely repeat. As a young man I mistook it for destiny and then in my middle age for arrogance.”

    Personally, I mistook it the other way around.

    But…this might be the single most touching blog post I am ever going to read in my life.

    “had a dog. It died as all dogs do.”

    Us. too.

    And before then, if we’re lucky, we create.


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