Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Winter Solstice howl or hymn.

Deccember 21st. Winter Solstice of 2010. The longest night of the year, the darkest night of the year (sounds like a Lord Byron line.)

The previous three weeks of running have been solid, even with unusually cold conditions on the coast. But as life does, a series of good runs becomes viral laryngitis and bronchitis, becomes the first shift of the year missed due to sickness, becomes ennui and gluttony and then sweet easy hours. Dr. Sparr declared that Sunday’s fourteen miler, kicking into the windy cold coast and back into sun-dry air, wore my body down, that two or three days out of the running cycle could be a good idea, that running was a love of his before two knee-replacements, and that he missed it. But seeing my wariness, he amended his advice to trying a slow, short run, keeping careful attentions to my body’s response, eventually submitting a reluctant “You’ll know.” But knowing he spent much more money on an education than me, I moved on to other interests, a thing easy to do as I’ve been reclaiming my mania recently, my attentions pushing me to an easy zealousness for damn near anything. First, I convinced my wife to let me join her on her day off. Our indulgences began with a delicious meal at Flaming Amy’s where I applied my theory of spice-hot food aiding the body’s immune system. I then accompanied her to the mall, falling into the Christmas frenzy, spraying Yves Saint Laurent and Dior on small white cards and sniffing coffee beans between studying fashions she may enjoy and suits I could wear, casually and everyday-refined. Everything smelled woody, like dry wood, moth’s wings, the powder of moth’s wings. Fragrances which were normally oiled or sweet like heated cedar permeated old hair; cotton smelled of a beery hay; handmade wallets were distorted through my olfactory disarray from musk and leather to something else entirely, like a sulfuric match kissing off. Wandering through myriad ties and dress shirts, I thought of getting my two suits dry-cleaned. Cell phones rang in spontaneous cacophony. Pretzels baffled me with a certain admiration of invention. Gift sets stacked like a marvel of architecture. It was then a good friend suddenly appeared, said hello, a moment of recognition, and I was immediately There, acutely aware of my presence at the mall, and self-conscious, a mottled wreck. My hair was heavy with the oil of uneasy sleep, the fevercloud of my body’s expulsions towards wellness; eyes were heavy and brooding, pthalo shades of dehydration beneath; my lungs were busy pulling air through the filaments of space remaining in my nose, and my voice sounded like a phonograph recording of Custard’s last stand. So the Mall adventure ended with me feeling sick and dirty, delirious.

Home was warm and the sunset was flooding rich cadmium spectrums against the cotton-wad sky, and winter’s first night was swelling from the East. Winter had come as official as a calender. As official as Dr. Sparr’s prognosis.  Sweeps of raw red slashed windswept clouds as purple drapes fell in the background, deepening to bone-black and carbon-black, flecks of silver, settling ash.

In the night is the luxury to be sick. One succumbs to sputtering coughs, heavy head mulling in fog, the red-burn of fevered eyes, the labored reel of breath and wheeze and ember throat. The one work shift I’ve missed would be concluding, and the associated guilt is released. Now is when can one rest while reading essays on Pollock’s works on paper, reconsider de Kooning’s Sag Harbor or Clam Diggers, dig into Olson’s study of Twombly, revisit Hoffstadter’s Godel Escher and Bach. Hell, Sillitoe is back out on the coffee table, along with a Dare Devil graphic novel and my image/text journal. Rauschenberg combines flash fast through mind’s gallery. Shostokovich beats the shit out of a cello. A private kaleidoscope of Image. The prime internal gallery of memory. Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Schnabel, Tworkov, Courbet, Gotti, Carravaggio, Basqiaut, Beuys, Ghenti, McCarthy. . . . ad infinitum. Kirkegaard, Cantor, Wallace, Miller, Cioran, Melville, Ferlinghetti. . . . the Winter night allows, glorifies the loss of boundary, the fraying of edge, the dynamic bleeding of element into element, disparate emergence, the crossover or matrix of separate Idea and Idea, a mutation or splicing of things. A fusion in pursuit of the synergy of seasonal associations, such as an entire history of visual art. . . mind you, to elucidate, this is not a Smithsonian or a Louvre, this is not a cultural memory of Art but a private museum, a place of singular Muse, a solipsist gallery Wittgenstein or Foucault would get. A madness of Winter’s paleness. It is a stream-of-consciousness addressing the personal retrospect of image-encounters. A Proustian Collection.

A run on December 16th.

Folks Café was the first stop of my run. A three-count pour of sugar with a splash of cream readied the robust Sumatran before I stashed it in the truck, slinging my hoodie on top of keys, raisins, a cliffbar, my work apron, and a long-sleeve shirt. I stared down Princess Street with a certain nostalgia, I once lived here, ghosts of lovers and dope fiends and their counterpart peddlers, the laundry spot, desolate nocturnes pacing home from bars broke, Schoenberg or Schnittke or Dvorak in the head, the cycle of those days. Essays on entropy or the unfinished Michelangelo sculptures, the late slave series, addled dereliction and hymns, the Stab-n-Grab. . . . I turned the other direction to march then slowstride then jog, shaking out the heft of legs, letting ankles loosen, knees bend into the kick, Coca-Cola warehouse and Ninth and Princess, next a right and the park at Fifth and Chestnut and the run worked from Downtown to Greenfield Park and back up Front Street to Water Street. Ultimately it was a ten mile journey and one of my most effortless runs. The Sumatran was still hot when I returned cold, and Beastie Boys Check Your Head got me home.