Duly Quoted

"A library is a hospital for the mind."

” That was why we didn’t sleep! We were, goddamnit, trying to live a week that would be worth documenting.”

Book: You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggers

Verdict: Egg-cellent! (Pardon my pun).
I liked it almost as much as A.H.W.O.S.G. (more than How We Are Hungry, I’d say), probably would’ve liked it just as much if it weren’t mostly fiction. But yes yes yes you should all read read read!!!!

My head was a condemned church with a ceiling of bats but I swung from this dark mood to euphoria when I thought about leaving.

3. There are bears and there are small dogs. Be strong like bear! If they take out your teeth, sit on the dogs. Bears always forget they can just sit on the dogs. Sit on the dogs.

…And there is a chance that everything we did was incorrect, but stasis is itself criminal for those with the means to move, and the means to weave communion between people.

My mind, I know, I can prove, hovers on hummingbird wings. It hovers and it churns. And when it is operating at full thrust, the churning does not stop. The machines do not rest, the systems rarely cool. And while I can forget anything of real importance-this is why people tell me secrets-my mind has an uncanny knack for organization when it comes to pain. Nothing tormenting is lost, never even diminished in color or intensity or quality of sound. These were filed near the front.

I was feeling everything much too much. Everything was pulling at my eyes.

The day was bright and gaudy and hot—the air like breathing through wool.

What was wrong with Charlotte? Nothing. Every complaint now seemed ridiculous. She had long dark hairs that swirled around her nipples and I’d seen this as problematic instead of loving her indifference to them. And I disliked her sighs. She sighed too much, I announced to myself one day, and worse, her sighs were too sad. Too full of sorrow. When I held her she sighed, and her sighs were weary, were groaning and exhausted, the sigh of an old person who’d seen everything and couldn’t believe she was now being held, at the end of a journey she could never describe. The sighs were withering, were mood-killing, and when I finally complained about Charlotte’s sighs, to no avail. She’d responded with another sigh and that, I know now, was the end of the end.

I was pissed. Fore very good deed there is someone, who is not doing a good deed, who is, for instance, gardening, questioning exactly how you’re doing that good deed.

They live in these rooms. They breathe here, I hear their laughter. I try to keep them in the rooms I don’t enter, but they move, and I forget where they are, and when we’re in a room together I vibrate, I have too much within me, I cannot contain my desire—death for them and even me, I will tie my blood to theirs, a line to anchor, whatever it takes, they make me want to end my brain.

Never before have I wanted such harm rent upon another, but here I am and this is what I want. Oh grant me this! I know forever they will be in my house, the rooms of my mind, I know this and have accepted this but while I know they will be there I want them dead there. I cannot have them breathing there! I want them in the floorboards of the basement of my soul. Can you not will you not grant me only this? For this I will forever be your servant, resolute, your tool here among the wretched. I will do for you deeds sinister or noble, in public or private, whatever the cost. Let me dear Lord bring these men to you, allow me to make them available to your rage. I will hold them upright as they are struck down. I will collect their remains if you choose to tear them asunder. I will bleach their bones if you strip them of their flesh and muscle. Out here under this sky of stone I feel I can know your rage. Oh please tell me you know rage! I want now your storms to converge, I await the blackening of your skies and the cracking of bones as you prepare for—

I could drink to pass out and keep from thinking. That would be the plan.

I leaned back until I was lying flat, staring up. The smoke from the grills striped the black starless sky. I couldn’t see Hand, but his shadow dimmed my right eye’s view. My body became heavier the longer I lay. I felt huge, sluggish, limitless in mass. It would take me hours to get up. I might never move again. I could become this landscape. I could fade into this pavement. I could watch as a mountain would watch, as a man on a balcony would watch, the people and their transactions, their hissed offers and threats, myself amused and without obligation. From a balcony, even twelve feet up, there was enough distance. There is movement below but it’s not your movement.

Maybe I wanted to be crushed, too. To be ready you need to be tired, and you need to have seen a great deal, or what you consider to have been a great deal—we all have such different capacities, are able to absorb and sustain vastly different quantities of visions and pain—and at that moment I started thinking that I had seen enough, that in general I’d had my fill and that in terms of visual stimulation the week thus far had shown me enough and that I was sated.

All I ever wanted was to know what to do.

You invite things to happen. You open the door. You inhale. And if you inhale the chaos, you give the chaos, the chaos gives back.

I wanted so many times while driving to flip, to skid and flip and fall from the car and have something happen. I wanted to land on my head and lose half of it, or land on my legs and lose one or both. I wanted something to happen so my choices would be fewer, so my map would have a route straight through, in red. I wanted limitations, boundaries, to ease the burden; because the agony, Jack, when we were up there in the dark, was in the silence! All I ever wanted was to know what to do. In these last months I’ve had no clue, I’ve been paralyzed by the quiet, and for a moment something spoke to me, and we came here, or came to Africa, and intermittently there were answers, intermittently there was a chorus and they sang to us and pointing, and were watching and approving, but just as often there was silence, and we stood blinking under the sun, or under the black sky, and we had to think of what to do next.

I was exhausted. You should sleep. Wake up early. That’s not the way. It’s the same. It means less that way. We sleep when we fall. We only sleep when we can’t move anymore. That’s juvenile. But it means everything. It’s the illusion of progress. Staying awake isn’t progress. The illusion is enough.

That was why we didn’t sleep! We were, goddamnit, trying to live a week that would be worth documenting.

–You have to give everything
–This is what I’m doing
–We are creating it. We are conjuring it.
–Every time we do it it’s a new world. I live again. Love is implicit in every connection. It should be. Thus when we absent it makes us insane. It breaks our equilibrium and we have to flounder for reasons. When we pass by another person without telling them we love them it’s cruel and wrong and we all know this. We live in a constant state of denial and imbalance.

The deejay, from Cuernevaca, knew everything and knew joy and how to maintain and even elevate joy—and when at five we were all soaked in sweat and bewildered by how blessed we were, after the last bus left, for the hotels, leaving us to get home via foot or taxi or sleep under a table on the high soft grass, people started jumping in the pool and when they jumped in I jumped in too. I took off my pants and my shoes which still held currency from a cold and suspicious land and I jumped in—it took so long to land and in the air I saw all the faces!—I jumped with my mouth so open, taking it all in, and the air was cold and the water was so cold but I jumped all the way in, all at once, and my heart froze. Man, I thought that was the end, right there. It stopped for a minute I swear, but then the sound and pictures came back on and for two more interminable months we lived.


Filed under: Dave Eggers,

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