What Torments Us

27 May 2013
11:21 PM


I woke up to a bad back. Spent the whole day in bed, moving in and out of sleep. I must’ve pulled a muscle yesterday while carrying heavy boxes of my father’s documents.

Was thinking that I have underestimated a lot of things: the weight of paper, the consistency of making plans and following through them, the weather. The possibility of a vacation before ‘summer’ ends. My own physical strength.

Here is a poem:

Auscultation (or A Year After His Death, I Find What My Father Underlined in a Textbook on Listening to the Heart)
Jenny Browne

There is no substitute for a quiet room.

Respiration must be suspended
while one is listening.

Loudness is the subjective aspect of sound.

At the base of the heart,
the second sound
is louder than the first.

The term gallop is no longer of value.

A thrill is a palpable manifestation of a murmur.

Vibrations are produced downstream.

The farther the sound has
to travel
through the chest wall

the fainter the sound will be.

Why do I feel like I am so distant from a lot of things lately?

1.1 History and elegy are akin. The word “history” comes from an ancient Greek verb ίστωρειν meaning “to ask.” One who asks about things – about their dimensions, weight, location, moods, names, holiness, smell – is an historian. But the asking is not idle. It is when you are asking about something that you realize you yourself have survived it, and so you must carry it, or fashion it into a thing that carries itself.

. . . The phoenix mourns by shaping, weighing, testing, hollowing, plugging and carrying towards the light. He seems to take a clear view of necessity. And in the shadows that flash over him as he makes his way from Arabia to Egypt maybe he comes to see the immensity of the mechanism in which he is caught, the immense fragility of his own flying – composed as it is of these ceaselessly passing shadows carried backward by the very motion that devours them, his motion, his asking.

1.2 Autopsy is a term historians use of the “eyewitnessing” of data or events by the historian himself, a mode of authorial power.

. . . Note that the word “mute” (from Latin mutus and Greek μύειν) is regarded by linguists as an onomatopoeic formation referring not to silence but to a certain fundamental opacity of human being, which likes to show the truth by allowing it to be seen hiding.

5.4 . . . Always comforting to assume there is a secret behind what torments you.

– Anne Carson, from Nox (x)



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