Reading Stitches
Books, Poetry, Things I Wish I Knew For Sure, and not all that much about Knitting

Oct 14, 2010

These Funny Black Holes

Thanks to Cordula Surmann-Schmitt, on Ravelry as Haramis17

Having just finished David Mitchell's latest, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet - with his almost feminine flourishes of precision and skill, and Peter Pan-like genius; where even in the darkest passages he brings humor and an everlasting fun; and where he can't help but share his enjoyment of every word, which works like a perfect puzzle piece to produce a perfect novel - I have just started Per Petterson's I Curse the River of Time, and The Pain Chronicles by Melanie Therstrom, as if to ground myself, fresh from a Disney ride.

Reading in Therstrom's book about ancient treatments for pain - for instance, how the Egyptians drank magic words liquified (edible ink); or how the Babylonians chanted over a poultice of beer, oil and herbs for toothaches created by the demon-worm residing in the jaw - and in Petterson's, about the relationship of a dying Danish mother and her freshly divorced Norwegian son; and reflecting on the fact that there is an ongoing joke in my book group that I enjoy "dark" writing (because I adored and suggested By Night in Chile by Roberto BolaƱo, no doubt), I've been pondering perceptions of light vs. dark a great deal lately.

My perception has at its core an awareness of darkness that has been present for me from my very first memories of this lifetime. I have indulged or wallowed in the drama of darkness, but as time progressed I learned the potent lesson: Heartbreak Happens. I came to understand that a heart has a limit to its capacity for breakage, and if I didn't want to end up slobbering in a gutter somewhere, I needed to decide that what was left of my heart should be less like a cheap plastic kid's toy and more like the moldable kind of plastic, like Play-doh or other, where the squeezes and shoves heal over soon enough, even when small chunks come off due to overuse. My heart may be distorted, oddly-shaped, and incomplete, but in this new consistency I may yet avoid that curb by the sewer drain.

As far as embracing darkness vs. light, I am much more prone to embrace them both as one entity, where I don't understand one without the other - fearing too much enlightenment at once, I suppose, or too much hell; I've been at both ends, and, although as initiations they can't be beat, you don't want to do it too often, unless you have a death wish - and I find that beauty almost always contains both at once. Too much light and I'm dizzy from overexposure. Too much dark and I'm blind.

I see a need for both, and can't see the light if there is no contrast. The gray area in between is what defines "reality", but with no extremes to shoot for or avoid, I would be bored. And I'd choose the gutter over boredom any day.