Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Three

Posted by ilbebe on December 15, 2008

3. Something about Kurt Vonnegut’s 2005 collection of essays A Man Without a Country really jogged something in me. It helped clarify my stance on having a fundamental sense of humanism guide our actions. It helped give me a keen eye for and appreciation of sarcasm if not outright heresy AND the ability to say I loved the teachings and principles of Jesus Christ while despising those who misrepresented those same ideals and foisted suffering and death upon people in his name. I realized that Jesus would have gently reminded me through parable not to despise others, and considered getting a cross tattooed on my back, superimposed over the state of California. I thought about the fact that tattoos were considered an unforgivable ‘sin’ by the faith of my ancestors, Judaism, and reconsidered. I listened to both Jump Around and a few different versions of the traditional Irish song The Wild Rover and rethought what I had conceived the role of the prodigal son to be.

No nay never, no nay never no more I said to myself. I listened to Bob Dylan and watched the films of Wes Anderson and realized that I wasn’t ashamed any more. I saw footage of Dylan playing in the UK in 1966 in front of a huge American flag, playing those meandering harmonica solos that people criticized at the time as being practically ‘unlistenable’ but which I found heartbreaking. I saw the Twin Cities for the first time shortly after dawn and ate granola bars given to me by the girl I foresaw to be the love of my life. I had a sixty-something-year-old man tell me he’d recently re-read On the Road and it had make him smile, and sorta changed his life, just a little bit. I recalled the night I saw Dave Eggers speak and someone asked him how he felt about the James Frye ‘scandal’. He said ‘I just feel like…he should have called it a novel.’ I had become familiar with the limitations of literary autobiography before I had truly understood what a literary biography was. Or so I thought.

I had read Dave Eggers’ literary autobiography in 2001, a soft-cover copy was given to me by my mother as a Hannukah present. I read You Shall Know Our Velocity in the autumn/winter of 2007, a gift from a dear old friend. I had read David Foster Wallace for the first time in the summer of 2005, a recommendation of another dear old friend who used to play ping-pong with the other old friend I just mentioned.
I started to realize that everything that had ever truly resonated with me had been introduced to me by one of three sources; either a) Discovered by happenstance or instilled in me by the dominant culture or my parents; b) Recommended to me by friends; or c) Discovered via non-animate or symbolic indicators by myself, with little input from othersDavid Foster Wallace apparently killed himself on Saturday. Last Saturday. September 13, 2008. Today is September 18, 2008. Things are getting quicker, and things are going my way.

I am doing the right thing.

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