Ok: all that business I was bemoaning yesterday? I'm over it. I've decided that it isn't worth the headache, and also that what will be will be, and no amount of belly-aching will change that, so nevermind. The planet that's really not worth visiting is planet "Miserable Romance," and I'm not going there. I hope, one day, to have a romance that makes me happy, and that is worth the headache, and when that time comes, I will gladly suffer it. In the meantime, I shall fare forward.
I want to tell you some more things about this excellent book, which I have now finished reading, and which, seriously, I could not have loved more. The first thing I want to tell you is that Bono is an amazing man, and I could not feel luckier than I do to have had him to look up to since I was 13 years old. It may not seem like it today, in light of all the shenanigans I get up to, and how I love that devil music, but I had a very Christian upbringing. When I was a girl, it was so nice to hear Bono say things that were familiar to me, as a Christian, and more than that, it was validating to see him live so effectively, with so much good will and integrity, in a secular world, with his faith in tact, and guiding him.
Bono once said one of the most beautiful things I have ever read about being a Christian. It was during a tour of the American midwest that he did on behalf of his DATA organization, to help raise awareness about the wholesale AIDS holocaust that's underway there, and he was asked by some local paper if he was, in fact, "a Christian." His response, beautifully, was that he aspires to being a Christian, but that he knows he is unworthy of the title. What a different attitude that is to the kind of judgemental, moralizing, politically motivated evil that passes for the voice of Christianity in America, and currently guides so much of our political life.
I love that Bono talks so openly about his faith in this book, and that he says that when he speaks to God, he knows that God hears and answers him, and that he guides him. I love the sense you get that Bono knows how very, very wrong he can be, and the sense of rigor there is in his approach to his religious life, and his life in the world. That is beautiful shit, and I have nothing but respect for that guy.
The other most brilliant thing in this book is when Bono talks about being a performer. "Never trust a performer" he says, reporting that, for instance, when he got off the stage at Live Aid, and hugged that girl from the crowd, he was looking, as a performer, for "a moment" that would stay with everyone who watched it. That, yeah, he was feeling the need to break the barrier between himself and the audience, but that another part of him was calculating how to tell the story of breaking that barrier, and was very conscious of what it was doing. I love the tension there is in his work, and the way he talks about it, between artifice and authenticity, and I love how comfortable he is with the inherent contradictions in what he does. Can we believe him? Do we know him? YES. Is he always 100% geniune? NO. I love the way both of those things are true, and unhesitatingly avowed by him.
Sometime in the 90's, during the big explosion of winking irony that was the Achtung Baby and Zooropa art project, I remember the sense that even though there was a big freaking circus of a stadium roadshow and gold and red devil costume between us and those clear, blue eyes, that the same soulful heart was beating under it all, and then I read some interview where Bono said that the best place to be was standing right at the center of all the contradictions -- that's where the truth is.
I'm not getting into the gory details on this, but let's just say that last Friday night was hard on my dignity. It was one of those occasions where returning to my own space brought it home to me, hardcore, that maybe some of the other planets are best left uncharted.
I spent most of Saturday holed up in my apartment, nursing my wounds, feeling like hammered crap, and meditating on how much totally unnecessary drama gets instantly ushered into your life as soon as you think something totally ludicrous, like: "Hey, that guy's kinda cute!" That, and mainlining the first season of "Lost" with my monkey, who is a total angel for getting me some Fanta, and putting up with how many times I told him Dr. Jack was HAWT. Seriously.
I'm not sure how many of you are aware of the facts, but, where love is concerned, I've been on a long hunger strike. My last foray into the world of romance was, I think, a little more intensely awful in the final analysis than I could really take with any degree of equinamity. I mean, I'm not mad, and I'm glad the perpetrator found his way out if that's what he needed, but... yeah.
At this point, I would pretty much sooner drop dead than let any guy think he could actually get under my skin, and if I like a feller, I either tell him flat out, like you would tell a joke, so we can all laugh at what a dumb idea that is, or I clam it like the good lord intended. At this point, honestly, I'm not even sure your average guy that I might meet COULD get under my skin. I'm pretty tough, and I've had a long time to dream up abstract perfections that are never matched on planet earth. At the same time, I can't shake the feeling that where this topic is concerned, my brain is an unreliable narrator, and whatever it's telling me is probably bullshit; even that last sentence, which is fully motivated by the sheer desperate HOPE that it's an unreliable narrator, because, if it is reliable, I am doomed.
Anyway, I decided to give this one guy some encouragement last week, even though, in fairness, I was not fully convinced that even his charms, and they are myriad, were worth the trouble. Now, predictably, that modicum of investment feels like it was a mistake, because, as usual, I can't help being sucked into the black hole energy-sucking vortex of having to think about it, wonder about it, and wait for him to announce the judgement he has no doubt passed on whether or not I'm worth his trouble, etc. Predicted (and justifiable) answer? NO.
God, I love romance. BRING IT ON!
Then, last night, I went to see Walk The Linefor the second time, and by the time Joaquin Phoenix was knocking it out of the park man-in-black-style with "Ring of Fire" and asking Reese Witherspoon's June Carter to marry him in the middle of "Jackson", I had chills, and a single picturesque tear rolling down my forlorn cheek because I just know that all my chances for a real love story are all but used up now that I'm a crusty, hard-hearted 36 year old single parent with no money in the Czech Republic, and don't bother contradicting me, liars.
Goddamn, people. this is a good book. It's nothing but a really long conversation with Bono, over a period of several months, with a French journalist, Michka Assayas, who knew a good thing when he first saw it in 1981, and is the dead opposite of Charlie Rose, in that he mostly shuts up and lets Bono have the floor. In it, Bono talks about his youth, his family, and his work, as a rock star and as an advocate for the poor, and it is fantastic.
People give Bono crap about the ego, but all I can say is THANK GOD for his ego. Thank God for his sense of what is possible, and what people are capable of. Thank God for his faith, and the fact that he never lets go of what he believes is right. When I first saw Bono, sometime in the early 80's, I was 13 years old. He was talking big, and dreaming big. He made a lot of promises about what kind of a man he was, and here's what's good about Bono: he has kept them all. He is that man so much more than I ever imagined back then. Lately, when I hear he's been short-listed for the Nobel Peace Prize, or some business, I swear I am proud of him as if he were my brother, or something.
I grew up watching Bono grow up for well over half my life, and seriously: we're going to have to step oustide if you want to talk shit. I mean, no doubt, he falters, but at the end of the day, he is a force for good, and his example is magnificent.
There will be more on this topic when I've finished reading, but for now, since I know you are all well-aware of my current fixations, I want to show you the most heartwarming picture in the entire world of rock:
It's the little smiles that really kill me. In some ways, Trent Reznor is the anti-Bono. Bono is always looking for the light, and trying to make pictures of heaven, while Trent is really, really unflinching about the darkness and complications. Aesthetically speaking, however, neither one of them fears the broad stroke, and they both have exactly the same topics at heart; which is to say THE IMPORTANT ONES -- truth, faith, love -- and they both do their work with that wholly unironic, savage seriousness that I love so damned much. That is a picture of my two favorite artists, right there.
Finally, here are two of the millions of good things Bono says in this excellent book that everyone should read:
"Fuck, I don't mind. I'll be the clown. Throw the pie."
"People talk to me... They walk straight up to me because they know from the records that even if my face isn't as open as it was 10 years ago, I am... People who know the music, know who you are. They've been in the dark room, and they know you better than your best friend, because you don't sing like that to your best friend. You don't sing in their ear."
I don't mind telling you that I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what to do with this space, lately.
I mean, sometimes I think: "I'm gonna tell stories about my life as an EXPAT in PRAGUE!" But, halfway through writing those tales of life abroad up, I've totally bored myself. So, nevermind. Then I think: "The hell with it! I'm going to just write about whatever I'm thinking about!" Then, halfway through a long treatise on the tension between authenticity and artifice as revealed by the latest breath taken by Trent Reznor, I realize that even though I'm totally not bored, the rest of the world is ready to freaking KILL ME. Best to CLAM IT.
So, I think, well, maybe everyone would like to read some excerpts from the Kierkegaard I've been reading...
That's actually a good idea. Here's one:
If there were no eternal consciousness in a man, if at the bottom of everything there were only a wild ferment, a power that twisting in dark passions produced everything great or inconsequential; if an unfathomable, insatiable emptiness lay hid beneath everything, what would life be but despair? If it were thus, if there were no sacred bond uniting mankind, if one generation rose up after another like the leaves of the forest, if one generation succeeded the other as the songs of birds in the woods, if the human race passed through the world as a ship through the sea or the wind through the desert, a thoughtless and fruitless whim, if eternal oblivion lurked hungerly for its prey, and there were no power strong enough to wrest it from its clutches -- how empty and devoid of comfort would life be?
Crushing question, yes, but is that a freaking beautiful passage of writing, or what? Jesus. I love Kierkegaard. Religious anxiety never made better reading.
On a similar tip, I could tell you all about the trouble I got into with this English guy I work with last Friday night, but MY DAD reads this website, you know? I don't think he wants to hear all about it, frankly. But, let's pretend you all already know about the trouble I got into. I could tell you about how weird it is to have felt bored by the whole thing before it was even over, and how all I can really say is that I sure hope he doesn't want me to be his girlfriend, or something, because seriously, I want something so much more undeniable, which I'm sure never to find because it's romantic bullshit that doesn't really exist. But, then again, my romantic angst and the latest evidence that I am going to die alone and be eaten by wild dogs is pretty boring, really. I think I'll spare you.
Here's the story, my friends: I live in Prague. It's beautiful here. Yesterday I spent a beautiful, wintery day in cafes with my dear friend, and walked through gorgeous, frigid cobbled streets. I bought a honeypot for my kitchen, and I'm growing hyacinths in a window box in my flat. At night I drink tea and eat chocolate in my PJ's and slippers. I have a cat who won't shut the hell up, and I live in a lovely, clean, peaceful place. I teach English, and it has it's ups and downs. I'm generally happy, though I miss my friends and family.
Lately, I just don't have much to say. I'm sorry to be so quiet. I love you all, though.