I had the grim thought this morning: how’d I end up here—in this life, with this job, this house, this debt—the class middle-age question. But, of course, I could be in such a worse position by this age, too—homeless, jailed, etc., etc. It’s perhaps as if our lives are roles, or a series of roles, we can play—and there can be second chances, redemption, all that—and by the time we get to the end of our lives, there is our story, as complicated as each person’s story is—and of course, I don’t really believe that stories exist at all—we are just our physical bodies, unless we tell those stories. We’re skeletons showing particular signs of wear or breakage—the stuff the archaeologists look at.
And there is an old working-class poet in England’s 18th Cent., someone Duck—and a Mary Leapor, who died at age 24, and she too was a poet. I read some article about 18th Cent. writers Talcott [or Talbot?] & Gibbons complaining about lack of time to read—and she died, this M.L. person, at 24—and her book of poems was published posthumously and she got in trouble at her maid/nanny jobs for writing instead of working—the boss didn’t want to pay for poetry—although this Duck—and he had a “Duck’s Acre,” a field whose rent goes to pay for a party, donated by Lord Palmerston—and I’m bogging down in details. These names too are just ideas to contemplate. Their lives are mere stories for me now—and it’s never great when a story gets, when a life gets, turned into a story—there’s all too often a moral attached.
But it’s also kinda interesting to be reminded that there were poor poets, worker poets, even then—and this Duck fellow became a pastor. His position, his sermons, may be dated, stuck in history—merely of his time—but his passion for religion, his religious feeling—it’s easily glossed over, but that would be one way to connect to him as a person who could also be alive now—I mean, someone who’s not merely defined as an old timer from long ago. These are the things I’d like to connect to in people long ago–their human nature? That’s vague as fu*k, that term, but what would it have been like to be in his company, or to be friend or relative of his. Sure, there are summaries—”Papa was a jovial guy,” for example—but those don’t well capture the sense of that person being alive.
And being alive can be tough, you know? I don’t always think being conscious is always a good. Hell, we spend 1/3rd (or should spend that much time) of our lives unconscious as it is.
[From journal of Sun., 2 Sept. 2018, Journal 283, page 40-5]