June 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Things Fall Apart is the name of a novel I haven’t read yet. It’s on my shelf and it has been for years. For years before I would eye it longingly in the bookstore before browsing on to buy something else that I, today, still haven’t read—a cheap used Bolaño hardcover, The Handmaiden’s Tale, the complete short fiction of Kafka, you get the point. Then, piracy was nice because I could go ahead and pile up .mp3s or or .cbzs or .isos instead, things like books that I didn’t have to either pay for or haul with me when I move to a new town, or else give away, later reacquire, and still never fucking read. Then came the email inbox stacking up with people to respond to, to-do list swelling with desperately hoarded obligations crafted to excuse my inaccessibility, or a Steam queue to distract me from it all.

I can’t remember the last time I’d read everything on my shelf and I’m getting further away from that equilibrium year after year, books accumulating steadily at a rate about 7-10 times the speed at which I read them, demanding soon a second shelf, a third, a fourth, plus filling up my computer’s hard drive and another hard drive external, and even while I sleep books lean perilous next to my head, stacked in order of “read me now goddammit” to “ok but then me next.” All of which depends on a vision of the future where Steve the tortoise, running at his own pace, finally catches up to the hare, all tuckered out. A future offering an infinite excess of time and attention span that would allow me to slowly wade through the pile of fascination I have with the world, and people, and the depths of our experience and invention and expression, accumulating steadily at a rate far larger than any one mind could ever absorb. And this omniscient future, even if it wasn’t impossible, is bunk anyway. I’d likely never make it there because Things. Fall. Apart.

Today it was the Beatitude Catholic Worker house, sort of. Not completely or forever, we assume—they’ll find another house. But I saw Victor today and his daughter Lupita, and remembered the depth of heroism they all went through to keep that family together, and I wanted to cry. One day without that house and what they do for their community is a hardship. A day without their example of grown radicals living awesomely is a heartache. Any uncertainty to their future is plain difficult to think about.

But they will be back.

Things fall apart to bad people too, too. Sheriff Brown’s letter ban might be falling apart after an identical policy in Ventura County was deemed unconstitutional in a federal district court. But also writing deadlines fall apart. Spoilers’ noggins fall apart. Things fall apart not because you want them to or don’t want them to, but simply because they are things, and things fall apart, and there will never be enough time to put them all back together, because apart accumulates steadily at a much larger rate.

Still haven’t read that book, so I don’t know if I’m using the metaphor right. I’ve been perfectly happy doing everything else instead, though.


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