I was walking around the subway a few weeks ago when I randomly remembered the words Raglan Road. I didn’t remember where I knew those words from or what they may have been attached to, but I remembered them. For some reason. When I looked it up I realized it was a song from in Bruges. If you haven’t watched that movie you probably should. For some reason when I watched seven psychopaths I immediately remembered in Bruges, which I only just learned is probably because they had the same director. That’s like a way more intense version of the ‘where do I know that guy from!?’ game people play when they see actors on TV. Snipe.
I listened to it and was reminded of another couple songs I had heard a long time ago from Waking Ned Devine, which was a great movie with a sound track bested only by Tarzan.
Those songs bring to mind a line I read a few years ago in a Steven Pressfield book. “Irish despair is different. Nothing relieves Irish despair. The Irishman’s complaint lies not with his circumstances, which might be rendered brilliant by labour or luck, but with the injustice of existence itself. Death! How could a benevolent deity gift us with life, only to set such a cruel term upon it? Irish despair knows no remedy. Money doesn’t help. Love fades; fame is fleeting. The only cures are booze and sentiment. That’s why the Irish are such noble drunks and glorious poets. No one sings like the Irish or mourns like them.”
I was reminded of the story when I was reading Let the Great World Spin, also by an Irish guy. The wikipedia page tells me that one of the main themes of that book was the intertwining of grief and love, which I think I realized when reading but did not articulate to myself in such terms because I don’t sit around with myself thinking things like “You know, Nathaniel, the book you’re reading is really about the intertwining of grief and love,” because that’s not how people think when they’re along with their thoughts. Maybe because things that are understood internally don’t need to be consciously stated. I don’t know, whatever.
But anyways after I was thinking about that I was randomly reminded of Marathe/Steeply’s conversations in Infinite Jest, which were my favorite parts of the books. They were discussing freedom, and specifically whether or not it would be better to let people choose to watch the Entertainment, a video that fills people with such happiness that they go into a pleasure-coma and die. What they end up discussing is how love works, and what their countries attitudes are to choosing the things that may cause them grief.
“But choose with care. You are what you love. No? You are, completely and only, what you would die for without, as you say, the thinking twice… This, is it not the choice of the most supreme importance? Who teaches your USA children how to choose their temple? What to love enough not to think two times?…”
“But you assume its always choice, conscious decision… What if sometimes there is no choice about what to love? What if the temple comes to Mohammed? What if you just love? Without deciding? You just do: You see her and in that instant are lost to sober account-keeping and cannot choose but to love?”
Earlier this morning I was flipping through All the Kings Men while pooping, because that’s how I roll and noticed a line that reminded me of that train of thought, it was Jack’s rationale for returning to the life he had wanted to abandon after suffering a loss of his own.
“For after the dream there is no reason why you should not go back and face the fact which you have fled from, for any place to which you may flee will now be like the place from which you have fled, and you might as well go back to the place where you belong, for nothing was your fault or anybody’s fault, for things are always as they are. And you can go back in good spirits, for you will have learned two very great truths. First, that you cannot lose what you have never had. Second, that you are never guilty of a crime which you did not commit. So there is innocence and a new start in the West, after all. If you believe the dream you dream when you get there.”
When I read that book back in January I remember thinking that Warren would have been Cormac’s fucking boy. I saw a similar idea expressed in a very different way when Llewelyn runs into some girl also trying to run away from her life and counsels her:
“You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don’t count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of he days it’s made out of. Nothing else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I don’t know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who’s layin there?”
It was relevant to me because I was in the process of updating my resume, and wondering how much of what I’ve done I regret. And if I was lying on my bed right now sophomore year in college knowing what the next 5 years had in store would I do something to make it better? I think I would be very tempted. But I’m probably a wiser person for what has happened to me, and it’s given me a great deal of what will hopefully one day turn out to be material in some way or another, so I would not. Like the line in that Johnny Cash cover, ‘If I could start again a million miles away/I would keep myself. I would find a way.’
Meanwhile Anton Chigurh is watching me think and laughing, because I can think about things being some other way, but things are not some other way. They are this way. Can’t I see?
And now I’m idly questioning my existence and doing reruns of scenes from books I read years ago because a couple weeks ago two random words from years and years ago popped into my head. How the fuck do brains work.