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Generating and consuming prose

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Feb. 11th, 2015 | 08:34 pm

I am reading a new Nicholson Baker book. I do not actually like most of his books as books, but I still attempt to read every single one. I just need to periodically consume Nicholson Baker prose. It's like chocolate. Not all chocolate is actually that great, but it all tastes like chocolate, and sometimes you just need chocolate. Generally I re-read parts of Fermata or VOX, more or less at random. This is the first new material I've read in a couple years.

It's like meditation, where I forget how lovely it feels. After I got about 50 pages in, I felt this odd calm and I thought to myself, "Oh, I have not meditated in perhaps two weeks. I should do that. I like this feeling."

No, I mean it feels exactly like meditation feels afterwards. Not just that I have the same avoidance pattern with it. Afterwards I feel calm and centered and like I know my place in the world.

I have similar mysterious unconscious needs that involve writing prose as well. I have never really been able to do fiction or poetry. I consider myself more of a letter writer. Or perhaps a journaler, but in this semi-anonymous public sort of journal. I need some sort of audience, not for the gratification of having my words read (if that mattered I'd be on facebook or a real blog) but for the perspective. That is what I get out of letter writing as well; the directed perspective of writing to this specific person. It's an exercise in theory of mind perhaps but it is also like having company, but without all of the inconveniences of real people.

Come to this place with me, dear audience, and let us contemplate it.

I want to go to this idea with this distant lover. Or recollect this old dream with this knowing relative.

I think I feel less alone when I am writing to someone than in many actual social situations. This is possibly narcissistic of me. Probably. Nicholson Baker's work is moderately narcissistic, in that it's rambling and self-indulgent, and it's almost always about loneliness. Sometimes I wonder what it did to me, reading his work so young. I can recall a journal entry from when I was 15 about eating steak and drinking red wine by the pool and reading VOX. I spent a lot of time when I was young at home alone, consuming adult things.

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