Thursday, January 26, 2012

Surrealism and Paralysis

Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Gabo, to his nearest and dearest and superfanz like me), I have an irrational and uncontrollable fear of the dark. When I turn out the lights, everything takes on the shape of a tall stranger. The hats and purses that I hang on the edge of my bed become Druidic robes. I know that the girl from The Ring will creep out of my television so I have to turn the screen away from my bed. If I see my reflection in a dark mirror I don't even know what would happen, I am so terrified of the thought. I pull the covers over my head until I'm almost suffocated because even the night air scares me. Most of these fears can be attributed to my childhood reading habits, so think twice before you let your impressionable young daughters browse bookshelves in strange houses.

Last night, as I cowered under a mound of blankets, trying to distract myself with thoughts of fashion ("What should I wear tomorrow? Maybe a MUMMY'S SHROUD?"), I had, out of nowhere, a fullblown panic attack regarding mortality. It went something like this: My boyfriend was so adorable the first time we met. I will never be nineteen again. WE ARE ALL HURTLING TOWARD DEATH AND THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO TO STOP IT.

I wish that was a simple Tori Dot Gov exaggeration, but bitches, IT AIN'T.

I did not sleep until the wee small hours of the morning. But I discovered two things that help.

1. The Psalms, some of the most beautiful, alternately joyful and agonized poetry ever written.

2. The last two lines of the Surrealist Manifesto. Check 'em:

It is living and ceasing to live which are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.

Reading that makes me feel better. If life and death are imaginary, why should I gnaw off my fingers in nighttime terror? And what's that, André Breton? Existence is elsewhere? Oh yeah, I can get with that. It's called writing fiction. Basically, I just need to become a little more obsessive about fiction, which is what I was planning to do with my life anyway. BRETON, YOU GET ME.

Even though André would probably die (an imaginary death, of course) if he heard me say this, I will say it anyway: I think the final lines of the Surrealist Manifesto and the Psalms are kind of saying the same thing. Which is: don't look here. Look somewhere else. It's comforting, it's inspiring, it's sleight of hand. It's everything that makes up good fiction.


  1. Your train of thought isn't totally unlike mine.

    "Oh, I only have two hours left of work. That will fly by. But then again, so will the free time before work again. So will my life. I'll be dead soon."

    I also agree that the Psalms are beautiful. One of my favorite Psalms is 42, for what it's worth.

  2. Excellent. Thank you. I suffered some horrible angst lately after reading a pile of college journals I found in the attic. 1. I will never be 18 again 2. I appear to have been a horrendous drunk at age 18. 3. Death is coming!

  3. These are two of my favorite comments EVER. You morbid ladies are hilarious.

  4. That lesson is my favorite: "don't look here. Look somewhere else." Remembering that.


You are truly great.