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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tsipi Keller Novel Grips One's Mind

Tsipi my friend,

Still thinking about Monsieur Bruno. Aging--how to deal with it? what to think of it? Aging for me, at 59, is above all else a feeling of irritation. They say "Nothing comes into a person's life as more of a surprise than old age," and I'm afraid this is true. That's a line from a film I rented, can't remember which. The thought that one is on the downhill side of the hill, it's irritating; that time is running out, it's irritating, mainly because one can't do anything about it. There's a mild sense of loss of control. One is caught in a very slowly closing vise. Now you mentioned aging of the limbic system in Bruno, and I've been thinking about that off and on since the moment I read it. The major source of happiness (as opposed to ecstasy) in my life has been, for the past twenty years, listening to home-made tapes of rock music while sitting in the Square and watching the world go by. But I've stopped doing it. It's as if making the transition from normalcy to happiness is a chore, something in me doesn't want to make the transition. And the happiness was intense, there were Saturdays (I only did it on the weekends) when I would listen for two hours or more, in summer and (wearing insulated boots and a heavy coat and hat) winter. Your novel makes me wonder if it isn't aging of the limbic system that is responsible for the sense of resistance I feel when I think about picking up the walkman and going into the Square to enjoy what I used to enjoy. Or maybe I'm just bored with it. The few times I've listened in the past five years, it's worked, the happiness was as intense as ever. But I've stopped doing it. Maybe the brain stem is not what it used to be. I think the reluctance to listen is partly the result of a feeling that it's ridiculous for a man about to turn 60 (unthinkable!) to be finding so much enjoyment in rock music. But classical music just isn't the same. Samuel Johnson didn't like any kind of music: "It gives me no new ideas and prevents me from contemplating my own." Like you, I have a deep love of silence. I'm reading a thin book of poems by David Ignatow on aging, Shadowing the Ground, and it's awful, which is a shame, and bizarre, because his Selected Poems is one of the best books of poetry I've ever read. Perhaps I don't listen to my tapes because I don't need as much happiness now? I don't know, but a really huge thing has drifted out of my life. And I'm content to let it go. Happiness from listening to funk--been there, done that. And perhaps a deeper reason I don't listen is because subconsciously I am infuriated that I didn't become a professional drummer. Time is running out, one is walking downhill, one is irritated. Fear doesn't come into the picture, it's just this constant low-level irritation framing one's consciousness, filtering one's vision. You want to push at the air and push aging away . . . .

Anyway, thanks again for sending me the Bruno typescript, and you gentleman copied on this email, keep your eye out for the publication of this work in 2008 or 2009, on Amazon, by Tsipi Keller via Sputen Duyvil (sp?) Press.

Hope this finds you well.

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