LADIMIR: We are happy.
ESTRAGON: We are happy. (Silence.) What do we do now, now that we are happy?
VLADIMIR: Wait for Godot. (Estragon groans. Silence.) Things have changed here since yesterday.
ESTRAGON: And if he doesn’t come?
VLADIMIR: (after a moment of bewilderment). We’ll see when the time comes. (Pause.) I was saying that things have changed here since yesterday.
ESTRAGON: Everything oozes.
VLADIMIR: Look at the tree.
ESTRAGON: It’s never the same pus from one second to the next.
— Waiting For Godot
The space of the morning.
What is it about waking up?
The space of one’s own bed.
What is waking up an exit from? An entrance to?
This morning, the heart is heavy. Insanely heavy, like a brick inside my chest. The tears want to come but they do so sparingly. There are not tears for this heavy of a heart. The sun is penetrating and the light is bright. A strange warmth wraps around my body but I feel cold, exposed. The air is permeated with an immense and beautiful melancholy and what would I give to be lying somewhere else right now. What would I give to linger here for a few moments longer. This is the feeling of sitting up in bed, just slightly, not fully ready to get up, to leave the position of lying down, yet lingering as long as possible in this in-between state, in this state—no matter what time it is—before the day begins. This is a motion, a physical gesture, a physical state that the body lingers in. Yet it is not a physical state at all. It is an emotional one. The lingering of my body, the physicality of this lingering becomes emotional, grave. I think, I miss my mother. I think, I miss another warm body in bed with me. I think, I miss the feeling of safety when two warm bodies align and coordinate in gestures of passion and honesty.
‘For a long time I went to bed in writing’
– Parcel Mroust*
(*A play on the first sentence of Proust’s great novel, A la recherche du temps perdu, which reads: ‘For a long time I went to bed early.’ — from Georges Perec’s Species of Spaces)
We generally utilize the page in the larger of its two dimensions. The same goes for the bed… [i]t’s always a sign of catastrophe if several people have to sleep in it. The bed is an instrument conceived for the nocturnal repose of one or two persons, but no more.
The bed is thus the individual space par excellence, the elementary space of the body (the bed-monad), the one which even the man completely crippled by debts has the right to keep: the bailiffs don’t have the power to seize your bed. This also means—this is easily verified in practice–that we have only one bed, which is our bed.
– from Species of Spaces
In Species of Spaces, Perec explores the space of the page, the bed, the bedroom, the apartment, and so on. But here, in this bed, a bed that is not necessarily my own (I am currently living in a temporary space), in this space (a temporary, weighted space), in this space (meaning, my own psychological & emotional space), the bed is not so easily separated from the space of the room from the space of my heart from the space of the morning from the space of the sunlight sifting through the lacy white fabric covering the window.
Too, reading the haunting language of Michael Seidlinger’s newest book The Fun We’ve Had, the space of the language in the novel becomes the space of my strange and own haunting relationships, resurfacing, repeating, renewing, becoming.
“Are we having fun?” The sun made its first appearance, long rays of light poking through the clouds, highlighting the area where they would soon drift. By the time he’d fight the current, not that he ever won, more like the ocean let him win every time, the light pulled a few feet forward.
Always out of reach.
He stationed himself at the front of the coffin, like a captain of a nameless and needless ship. He wanted to say everything to her but all that came out was the same question:
“Are we having fun?”
There are strange things to do in bed in the morning. Lie in bed. Stare at the sunlight. Wonder what color is the sunlight coming in, what color is the light, what color. Stretch out your limbs and feel because your emotions are heightened and you can feel. Listen to the rain, if it is raining. If it is raining, it is glorious. It is always a good time to hear the rain. Listen to the music that generates those feelings only that music can. It is time. To have those feelings. Notice the hawks circling in the sky outside. Open your eyes. Open yourself to every possibility in the universe, in your body.
Small Village in the Autumn Sun, Paul Klee
The bed, in the morning, not having arisen, becomes a strange space for contemplation. The body: rested but not ready to be in action quite yet. The head: intimately still within another realm yet awake yet cloudy yet perceiving.
In bed, I have perhaps also broken my 10 month long writer’s block. Since Damnation, I have not been able to write except on assignment and via collaboration. With Damnation my relationship with language changed. So did my relationship with the world. Bela Tarr brought me out of an emotionally flat state and thrust me into one where I now feel like I am a vampire, with a heightened sense of everything. Suddenly, I can feel everything. Everything is feel-able. Everything is a confession. Everything is uncertain. Everything is everywhere.
In bed, I am watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I cry many nights. I miss my mom. I miss all of the men I have ever loved, still love. I realize that I have a lot of love to give. I do not mind the crying. It reminds me. It reminds me that there is no feeling like being in love and being loved back. There is no feeling like wanting to be in love, and wanting to be loved back. There is no feeling like heartbreak, like regret, like happiness, like sadness. All are feelings to savor. They linger, still, and I let them.
Lately too, I have been thinking about empathy, empathizing on an irregular level. A colleague brings up the term the “standardization of affect.” I agree. Sympathy runs rampant. Affect has become standardized, moralized. Empathy seems harder and harder to formulate, but more and more necessary.
To me though, Nietzsche’s famous Turin horse incident seems easier and easier to understand. It feels close. It feels like it is inside me.
In bed, I am watching TV. It is not morning, but night. I can not sleep. Indeed I am watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Indeed it is late, maybe 3 in the morning, which might be night or morning depending on how technical we want to get with this. I haven’t slept yet, and tonight I won’t. The night and morning will blur together into a mass of gradually shining light that slowly grows outside my bedroom window. Morning will have come when I realize that I need to go to the bathroom to pee, notice what time it is, get “up.”
The scene in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is simple. For your average viewer, it is the final scene of an episode that reveals some new information about a character assumed to be dead, ending the episode on a mysterious note. For me though, in that moment, I suddenly feel the impulse to respond to this scene. Is this a remnant of working through Damnation? Can I now only write when prompted to by an outside source? Film? Television? Joss Whedon? Regardless, the scene, that might be summarized very differently and much more succinctly by someone else, is this:
He wakes up out of a long and deep sleep. How long has he been sleeping? He can’t remember — He can only remember — He feels his body aching. His face is burning, and he smells the distinct smell of burnt flesh. He is seized by panic. He is in a strange bed, it might be morning, indicated by the yellow walls. He gets up slowly, it hurts to move, and he can barely keep his eyes open, his face feels swollen, or like being torn apart. He removes the sheet that’s covering his legs, looks down, sees a bandaged stump where his right leg used to be. He is confused. He moves his gaze up, calls out in hopes somebody might have some answers, in hopes this might be a dream, calls out again, hello? Anybody? Maybe God is listening. Maybe he is being punished. He thinks briefly about his son. Maybe this is a dream. A horrible dream. He moves his gaze further up and sees a mirror on the opposite wall, sees himself vividly. It is his face. Worn, tattered, burnt, barely recognizable, but the essence of himself, the him that only he can recognize, the essence that one is oneself, the inarticulateable recognition of your own self that can not be simulated in a dream. It is there, it is you, you are here. And then, a flash across your vision, as if burned into your retinas, Good Morning Mr. Peterson.
“No setting sun view for me, it is too melancholy; let me see him rise.”
– John Wilkes Booth to his sister, Asia
In a recent trip to the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, there is a display of a fetus with exencephaly, a disorder in which the brain is located outside of the skull. The placard next to the display reads: This condition is incompatible with life.