Archive for June, 2013

The Ultimate Abandonment

I was thinking about my dwindling ‘expectations’ the other day. The gist was that in the end, or near the end, you lose not only the ‘more in the offing’ you’ve grown accustomed to all your life long, you also give up wanting more. As you finally realize that more is never going to be forthcoming ever again, you stop wanting it, and living without wanting  more or expecting more is a kind of dying. Is this dark or what?

Later, the next day, this: It’s not that you ‘give up’ wanting more. More it is that it abandons you. You just wake up one morning and notice that it is gone. What does this do to one’s psyche?  I’m wondering if the appearance of the lingering and pervading depression so characteristic of old age is a consequence of this abandonment.

Is this at root why old people reminisce so much, that because they have no future they turn their gaze rearward to reflect upon the past, because it is so intolerable to have no or not much of a future, that reminiscing is a way of coping with this depression, the more the more.

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On Reading Hilton Als In TNY

“Who is Hilton Als?” you ask. He is a theater critic whose pieces often appear in The New Yorker (TNY), and in its most recent issue, June 3, 2013, he has a review of sorts of Ibsen’s “The Master Builder” currently being revived at BAM’s Harvey Theater. So? Well, hearken back to my lament aired in my blog piece, “On Reading James Wood in TNY.” Once again I find my literary ambitions singularly discouraged. And how did what Hilton Als wrote lead to this dreary outcome? The specific prose in question appears in the final paragraph of this brilliantly wrought piece, “[It] detracts from Turturro’s efforts to remain true to his very Ibsenian understanding that our only certainty is isolation, and the only idea we can express, over and over, is that, individually, we are everything and nothing.

I was struck by the sheer brilliance of this observation; then crushed, and after reading it over a second time, thoroughly crushed, and a third time, discouraged and depressed. Yes I am sensitive, no argument there, and am so to the point that a single sentence from the right source can trigger an episode of bipolar depression. Didn’t I say, at the launching of my blog in December, 2011, that my reason for so doing was to examine that unexamined aspect of aging, the pervading sense of loss—“in late adulthood one is forced to deal with the sense of loss, all the time, it’s always there, and it’s painful, it takes great faith to live on even though one knows it’s going to end and that whatever they accomplish, if anything, is not going to matter all that much. How does one find meaning or a sense of fulfillment in life knowing that it’s coming to an end?”

And here comes Hilton Als, cutting to the chase, “…our only certainty is isolation, and the only idea we can express, over and over, is that, individually, we are everything and nothing.” Given my penchant for ferreting out the identities of famous manic depressives, I’m inclined to wonder if Mr. Als isn’t bipolar too, for the hallmark of the bipolar life is the isolation it imposes upon it, but I digress. So, in our efforts to make our minds known to each other, the upshot will always be, according to Ibsen, but a rehash of the idea that we are everything and nothing.  Is it fair to say that one can’t help but come away from this last with a deep sense of loss, a loss of innocence? How does one find meaning or a sense of fulfillment in life knowing that it’s meaningless?

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