Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Sometimes I think I'm really smart.

Smarter than most people anyway, in the most important way, since there are many ways a person can be smart.
Don't get me wrong. I've been known to do some pretty stupid, selfish things, which don't even work out for anyone, but me, or not even that; or compromised my time and efforts and integrity for the sake of obligation, or for the sense of 'doing the right thing,' which ultimately only served other people's selfish desires.
All that got old after I realized things didn't have to suck unless you let it.

The kind of smart I'm talking about though, is hard to explain since in order to even understand it, without it seeming like some smart myth, is to either be that brand of smart, or to see it, respect it and try to achieve it through patient practices in humility.

What, what is it, what are you talking about, you're talking out of your ass little girl, what do you know sexy, come here, let me put my fingers on you.

The kind of smart I am is in the way that I can see things for what they really are. It's about perceptive awareness; it's about intuition which can be so keen that precognition seems feasible and not some Philip K Dick sooth seer jive.

The sad thing is: People can't get this smart unless they've been murdered and resurrected a couple dozen times in life, brushed off, sore when it rains from broken bones mended, raw meat heart held together with tar and splints, fingers jagged razors cutting through exteriors, to see past the all too familiar veneers; it's by watching people die, by heartbreak, disappointment, deception, poverty, compromised freedom, deconstruction, faithlessness, complete and total feeling nothing for a long time apathy, earned and warranted cynicism, topped with a big heap of total fucking asinine bullshit people copping power trips, ego trips, ownerships.

I mean sure, books are good. I love books. They have words in them; words which are tools to communicate.

And speaking of tools, my desk chair is held together by six screws.

I didn't know that until I got it home in a box.

I had to borrow a screwdriver, a Phillips, and screw the damn thing together thinking the whole time: I wonder how many screws are in a blender, in a car, there are screws everywhere, holding everything we own together, and I've been taking this for granted, my alarm clock may have fifteen, my refrigerator, like fifty screws!

I felt accomplished my chair was sturdy and upright, felt as if I learned an important lesson about deconstruction, reconstruction, productivity, I felt smart and independent in ways which felt important, useful, unlike GRE perfect scores, unlike Pulitzer prize winning poets.

I fell today on a soapy mop watered floor in front of two Mexican ladies cleaning, got up and kept going with only a minor flinch of humiliation on a mission, it hurt later, but at the time, there was no time for hurt. My elbow feels as though it's been punched.

Sorry, this has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted some sympathy. A kissy on my elbow would be nice. I could go for that. Kissy's are cool.

Sometimes I think I am really dumb in a way that everybody understands, since that is what they expect from me in the first place.

I probably fell hard.


Glacial Spain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nic chiarella said...

"I felt smart and independent in ways which felt important, useful, unlike GRE perfect scores, unlike Pulitzer prize winning poets."

This makes much sense to me. I know I've had this feeling, have just been unsure of how to express it. I was assembling one of those fancy office chairs that provides variable lumbar support. The chair arrives mostly pre-assembled, but the cable for the lumbar support is the prize in every box. The manual has few useful diagrams, there is an unexplained step that makes one feel as if the chair will either be assembled successfully or will only be useful as modern abstract sculpture.

Once the chair was assembled, though, it was reserved in class for a man with two qualities relevant to this story: 1) He has back problems and necessitates a special chair in class; 2) He is an arrogant asshole that dominates discussions without having much to say. He is not a real elephant, just an inflatable one. Who puffed him up so?

While in class, during his bouts of silliness and competitiveness, I managed also to re-engage in my adolescence. "That bastard," I'd think, "doesn't even know that I put together that chair. Doesn't he know I am the source of his relief, while he is the source of my suffering. But, ah, I did put together that chair! I even routed the cable through the webbing! The chair operates so smoothly, so quietly, so reliably..."

What is it about assembling things that brings about such lofty satisfaction? Why, despite my utter lack of knowledge of wilderness survival, do I feel so happy to have conquered such a minor task from the mechanical jungle of the Other?

Sabra Embury said...

"What is it about assembling things that brings about such lofty satisfaction?"

Perhaps it's the closest way of feeling omnipotent without violence or corruption.

Or it's a way of feeling like you could do useful things in your life which might apply to surviving through unpredicitable circumstances.

We account for our weaknesses if we are truly aware of what lies in our ambitions.

There was an error in this gadget