|Leo Tolstoy and his wife, Sonya Behrs|
I really couldn't have that picture of myself yesterday at the top of the blog anymore. Imagine what people would think if they hadn't been here before? The fact that I also posted a photo of myself in a Tinky Wink costume on Facebook must mean something other than complete self-absorption. The truth is that I feel a little crazy of late, like I'm closer to tipping off the edge than doing the customary pirouette. Surrendering to humor, to self-derision is probably just a defense. Behind all humor is sorrow, said Mark Twain, and I believe that. I flip the date on my Alhambra Poetry Calendar and read a poem called Nihilism that has entirely too many explanation points after words like gloom and tomb and hollow. It made me feel like shit, and I'd rip it off the calendar, light a match to nihilism and watch it burn into the blue sky of Los Angeles if I didn't feel a modicum of respect for Mr. Lionel Johnson who lived a short thirty-five years in the late nineteenth century. Here's the final stanza of his poem:
For all the things I do, and do not well;
All the forced drawings of a mortal breath:
Are as the hollow music of a bell,
That times the slow approach of perfect death.
Good lord, the drama! I like to imagine that living in another century I would have taken to bed with a draught of laudanum on days like today -- and yesterday, and the day before. Or I might have been in attendance to a great bearded writer, ministering to his own dramas, bearing his thirteen children and secretly aware that his fame was completely dependent on myself.
Yes, I'd say, as he picked up his quill, yes. All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.