Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bored and stupid

1. I'm bored.

(NPR interviews Gillian Anderson and includes a clip of her boredom.)

Is anyone else watching Bleak House who's never read the book? Or like me you tried to read it 20 years ago because it had a cool title and you can't remember a thing about it? Only you realize you did read some of it and some of it must lurk in your head in a dark room with no doors and watching it now something is starting to seep through its floorboards? And it pisses me off that I can't stop watching — I'm riveted — to break away and read it cold, or anew, that I'll never know whether the obviousness of the story is actually there in Dickens's story, or whether it's an effect of a director's interpretation and editing, or whether I've simply found access to forgotten memories. And this review, which I finally got round to reading, confuses me all the more, because I am on the edge of my seat and dizzy with it, it's the exact opposite of "languid," exactly not "a luxurious cat stretch" or "seductive languor." More a cat bristling, wriggling its little butt preparing to pounce. Is it me?

2. The public wants what the public gets.

3. Have been very, ugh, domestic this week. Not in a satisfyingly domestic-goddess kind of way, but just barely keeping it together. Taming books and toys and bills and wrapping paper. Ugh. But we're eating well, and I've determined that I'm a better cook than I, and other people, think I am — I just need to sell myself better by, for example, saying "blanched asparagus with lemon and herbs" instead of "some vegetable."

4. Other people's children are amazing.

5. Am mildly bewildered? amused? horrified? that one of Helena's baby dolls has developed an identity as her baby brother Philipe.

6. Also, I'm feeling stupid.

I've never read David Foster Wallace, but I will, having been inspired by Callie's encounter with him (parts 1, 2, 3, and especially 4). smacked a bit of..."Look, at the end of the day, I'm really too smart for all of you, you will never understand my work because you are idiots, so can we just end this thing already?" But in the most charming way possible.

How can I not see that as a challenge? I feel stupid just reading about it, made to feel stupid by proxy, dreading to think how I would've withered were I in his actual presence.

But I have read the commencement address he delivered. I've printed it out and reread it several times already. Somehow it makes me feel better. (Even the ouch of "Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out." — gives me perspective.) Read it if you're having a bad time at the grocery store or just wondering what the hell you're doing with your life.

7. A package of books arrived for me yesterday! The book I ordered that I was most looking forward to was not among them, but I will console myself and rest my brain by indulging in a guilty pleasure for the rest of the week, and then probably getting all worked up over how stupid it is.

There you are. Bored and stupid.

Days go by
Endlessly pulling you
Into the future...


rachel said...

Feh. Threw "Infinite Jest" across the room. Can't remember enough about it to tell you why, but I love Ulysses and other fucking pretentious bullshit, so THAT wasn't it...

callie said...

Isabella -- it is always find that someone is feeling exactly as I am and has articulated it in a way that I simply could not have. Bored. Check. Stupid. Check. I think it is something in the air.

It's funny you pulled out that quote from DFW's commencement is the very portion of the speech that hit home hard for me and it illustrates the EXACT irony of my entire insecure experience being around him. All my writing about seeing him and reading him centered around my feeling a fraud. And why? Clearly I put too much importance on the intellect. It doesn't make me feel altogether comfortable vis-a-vis DFW, but it does take the pressure off, and as you point out, gives perspective.

Now, how to not forget that? :-)

martha said...

Hmmm. I loved Infinite Jest. I think it has that quality-- ether you love it or you hate it. It's full of excess and exuberance and a headlong quality that often makes you wonder what the hell is going on, but I enjoyed the ride. I heard David Foster Wallace in an interview once, and wanted to be his best friend, at least at that moment. He seemed a bit like all the nerds I hung out with in high school, only probably smarter. They all swung between gigantic ego and quivering self disgust.

rachel said...

Also, I meant to say: boredom makes you feel stupid. It's been amply documented in my own life, and I'm sure it's true for other people as well. The brain goes all torpid and soft. The way out (for me) is usually to do something difficult. It will feel horrible at first, but persist.