i should have an interview next week, in a city a couple of hours to the east. i applied to two language schools a month ago, as it seemed likely Morgana would be fired for public skull-fucking, and without her the lunatic Corporate Manager would certainly force us all to dress like Mormons, daubed in pig blood and whipped cream. So far nothing of the sort has happened, but last week one of the schools i’d applied to rang me as i was huffing & puffing uphill to work. There’s been very little work here for the last few months – e.g. i was paid 1000 Euros in January, before tax, and from this i have to pay 600 Euros a month for medical insurance. So i said yes, i would come for an interview.
i feel a growing need to escape, not just Ultima Thule or my job but rather my earthly self, the accumulations of this life. Perhaps it’s just a mid-life crisis filtered through my abnormal sensibility, as i approach the age of Dante the Pilgrim, nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. i haven’t done any good writing in years. Indeed, i think my only productive period was in 2003, when i wrote most of my short stories. Since then my life has been a series of compromises with ordinary fears, with ordinary desires & expectations. My fire has guttered and i now inhabit the ashes of what could have been. i don’t feel despair, just a growing need to break through the film of this life – to some truer life elsewhere. Perhaps a different city will act as a catalyst, as happened when i moved to Didsbury in Manchester, in 2007. Or perhaps i will differently experience my inadequacy. It is hard, weighing my present against my past, not to feel second-rate, diminished, almost a parody of myself.
The difficulty is not knowing if there is any larger life, or if i will simply continue to re-enact my life as a series of empty gestures, as if to an invisible but suspected auditor. My inadequacy is not easily denied. As a human being i am manifestly a failure. i have only ever been justified as a creator, but it seems unlikely i will create again. i’ve been reading Blue Angel by Francine Prose, a diverting novel about a creative writing professor in America. The prof rightly notes that most of his students cannot be taught to write, that they lack whatever you need to forge mere technique into something of force. By contrast i think of the origins of the Duino Elegies: Rilke living in a castle near the sea, climbed down the rocks to the shore, and in the strong wind heard a voice: Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich denn aus der Engel Ordnungen? – who, if i cried out, would here me up there, among the angelic orders?
Once upon a time i knew this.