Sunday, June 07, 2009


At home this morning or what passes for
home, a grotty little student place we’re subletting
just two houses down from where we used to live
on Pleasant Street on South Hill in Ithaca.
Sadie, little light, is running around
behind me, just came in saying “I see you!”
though in her babyspeak it’s somehow more
like a rebus, I C U, though of course she has
no letters yet. Now she’s gone out and come in again
with a penny to show me—“Daddy! Daddy!”—that
she’s not supposed to have, and now Emily’s
deciding to skip the shower and get dressed, it’s
easier that way. Turns out none of the debris
that the Brazilians found belongs to Air France
Flight 447 so the mystery deepens, it may be a real
Lost situation after all—the deeper the mystery for a
bystander the less pathos, it can’t be that way
for those who’ve lost loved ones, not to mention
the passengers themselves, who know
or rather no longer have need of knowing
that’s why murder mysteries remain so popular
in books and on TV, we want to know whodunnit
and the it that’s dun is a pretext, maguffin,
hardly the locus of more than prurient interest
which is of course part of it. So I’m a little ashamed
of my human interest in this story
and will try to resist Googling it throughout the day.
Emily has closed the door, telling Sadie “Daddy’s typing,”
by which I don’t think she means Capote’s critique
of Kerouac, something Ammons incidentally
refers to at least twice in a validation of typing
and I too want to validate it though yesterday
I went out without a computer and so the typing was
(will be, haven’t done it yet) transcribing, purer
pleasure perhaps, reminding me of my temp days
when I would flaunt what seemed my sole marketable skill
a typing speed of 90+ words per minute less remarkable
now I imagine in an era of universal keyboarding
but there’s so little of my life that’s quantifiable I still
take a secret pride in it. I should
tell Emily to open the door or open it myself
since it’s hardly the point of this journal
to screen myself from what’s happening
as I write it, and just now Sadie pressed herself
endearingly against the closed door murmuring
Daddy, is the door now daddy for her as other objects
seem to take on life—there’s a closet to my left
she calls Mommy and when Emily’s cell phone rings
she says Daddy even if I’m standing right there.
But I think I’ll just keep listening.
Cracked open Badiou for much of yesterday morning
and could hardly make head or tail of it: I am double
daunted by the mathematical demands he makes
on his reader and by my generally lackadaisical
philosophical background: it’s been a long time
since I tried to wrap my head around high
theory as I said to Roger at lunch yesterday I
never would have realized before how little hard
thinking being a professor would demand of me:
my role has been more destructive than creative
especially in writing classes where I put so much energy
into helping students realize the limits they’ve imposed
on what’s proper to writing: in other words
I teach decorum, that’s a laugh, but seriously
decorum means propriety which refers
to what really belongs to us and so students
need to hear that what they think they have
(a self, opinions) isn’t really theirs:
what’s theirs is for the most part yet
to be discovered: not unlike my novel
stalled on a scene in Venice where my protagonist
is attending a fancy party to make some
sort of contact but with whom and for what purpose I
have no idea, I’m waiting for the words
to tell me since I have nothing else resembling
knowledge: that distinction between knowledge
and truth that Badiou seems to be talking about
and Ammons too: matter of fact
they’re both very interested in the one:many
problem and I even fantasize
one might help me read the other this
afternoon maybe settled in again at Gimme!
so that today shall be upside-down
to the others. This morning
we will go out together en famille
to the Cornell Plantations probably though it’s chilly
I’ll get some coffee on the way and
we’ll have the pleasure of seeing Sadie toddle
across acres of grass and on paths
that wind ponds, most likely get lunch after
and this evening see our dear friends Chris
and Jen and their son Elijah, a month younger
than Sadie but half again as big: Sadie’s
calling on the other side of the thin door
and it’s time to answer the call and
be a dad which is not quite the same as being
a father, will I be that to her, some name or no,
I’m somebody’s daddy ain’t
that a kick in my allegy-swollen head
someone for now I can still pick up
and swing into the air and she’ll shriek
our moment of mutual being.

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