Professing * Reflecting

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The absence of Medusa

...the specific character of despair
is precisely this: it is unaware of
being despair. --Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

OK--so I do not actually read Kierkegaard, but I do read Walker Percy and he begins The Moviegoer with the above quotation. I started reading Walker Percy when I was 19 and in love with a rugby player from Northern Alabama who was friends with Percy's nephew. This is a person who once locked me out of my own bedroom and proceeded to drop a hit of acid and listen to Jim Morrison records all night long while shaving his head with a Gillette Daisy shaver, and whom I once left sleeping in a small canyon in Stone Mountain, Georgia, by scaling a rock wall in the middle of the night WHILE IT WAS RAINING. My attachment to pretty much any novel he recommended was passionately secured early on, and I tend to reread them often.

I have picked up The Moviegoer a few times in the past few months or so but have not made it past the first fifty pages. My initial thought is that I am aware to the point of discomfort that the New Orleans Percy speaks of no longer exists. But I also keep tripping over this Kierkegaard headnote. In its utter hopelessness, despair is completely invisible to the person who despairs. It just is what is.

In order to avoid the despair of being seen (and hence being destroyed) or the despair of seeing (and hence turning the object of the gaze to stone), Medusa might, as we might imagine, tire of the game. She might withdraw and rest for a bit, robbing the myth of its power in the process and--as the slight smirk in this fragment of a Greek mask signifies--perhaps enjoying the solitude, whatever the price. Unlike Cixous's Medusa, she might be too exhausted to prove that she is really beautiful and laughing.

I have struggled with the ifs and hows of blogging what has been going on with me. For now, suffice it to say that I have been through a loss, a depression, a course of medication, and an uneven weening process that now seems to be somewhat under control.

I feel like I needed to be silent for a time, but at some point I think I forgot that I, lacking the ability to reflect, was lost in that which I was not speaking.

So, in short, I am back and--if not laughing and beautiful--at least glad to be out of hiding.



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