Some people scream. Some people cry.
Some do both.
The regular movements of the heavens are the oldest and deepest intimations of order in the universe. So it is hard, no matter how enlightened you consider yourself to be, not to feel a primordial lurch in your gut when the sun suddenly disappears from the sky.
I read an article about how couplehood and the attendant touching, not necessarily sexy, increases good health and longevity. I’m single and on the dark side of 60. I’m fine living alone, it’s fine, but when Trump got elected, for example, I had no one to gather me up and curl around me to protect me from everything incoming, nukes included. In a less grim example, I’m on a regular schedule of imaging tests for cancer, and I have friends, I have daughters, but reaching out every three months to express my scanxiety and beg for hugs seems overly needy. If I had a partner, in my case, a man, in the next room, I could complain at moments of peak terror and get held and hold on. Maybe live longer in better health. After reading the article, I wanted to know how much human touch I was receiving over the course of a week. Like, data-gathering.
One can often wonder why one author gets translated over another in English. There doesn’t seem to be a scientific formula to answer that. What seems to be the case, as seen through the Greek poet laureate and Nobel Prize winner, George Seferis, is that contact with English speakers and English writers, as well as a keen interest in a writer’s home country by some corner of the English-speaking world when that writer is alive secures the writer’s transmission into English. In the case of Seferis, he was writing at a time in which British writers found Greece to be intoxicating, not just for its past but for a contemporary vitality, which seems to have helped bring Seferis’s work into English and to secure his well-deserved reputation.
Neil Gaiman’s “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories” is a story that should not work. Gaiman states almost as much in the introduction to the collection, Smoke and Mirrors, that houses the story: “I wrote it higgledy-piggledy on a battered Atari Portfolio palmtop, on planes and in cars and hotel rooms, all out of order, jotting down conversations and imaginary meetings until I was fairly sure it was all written. Then I put the material I had in order and was astonished and delighted that it worked.” It’s a story about Hollywood and writing. It’s a story that meanders with almost no sense of plot. Yet, it works.
In the call centre at the end of the world
everyone is wearing the rags
of the clothes they came to work in two weeks ago.