First off, I know this is a blog and not a letter, but sorry to hear about the job. I guess I wasn’t sure what to say on the phone earlier. This new economy, you know, what has it done to my manners?
Anyway. Sorry. So, when we got cut off I was trying to say the following:
I went back home over the weekend and did some looking around. I mostly just milled about, hung out on the river bank, etc. Not much happened, perhaps unsurprisingly. Not sure what I thought would - I think I half expected events to just coalesce around me. Sometimes I have the sense that I’m bad luck, that things follow me around, just waiting to befall hapless bystanders. Of course, when I try to use it to my own advantage, nothing. Figures.
Anyway, I drifted over by Wells-Turner and browsed the stacks a bit. It’s all new inside, renovated, and it has a really nice upstairs with windows and comfy chairs – it isn’t at all how I remembered it. I used to like how musty it was, how dim inside. No windows, just row after row of yellowing books, always quiet, maybe the sound of people whispering from somewhere over in the stacks, people you could never quite catch sight of. It felt like a secret world, an adult world, where kids weren’t supposed to go, but I had snuck in somehow and they’d never think to look for me there, of all places.
I hope to get this across to my son someday, but he’ll have the internet and can just Google whatever he wants. So.
Anyway, the books are all rearranged and things weren’t as I remembered, so I just walked aimlessly around until I found myself staring down at a certain book, and it all came flooding back. I mean, is this weird? Do you believe in the collective subconscious, or fate, or any of that stuff? Because, I mean, Jesus, Sig. Really?
I wasn’t expecting that. And I wasn’t looking for it, really. It just kind of ended up in my hands, and I think a bunch of kids in soccer uniforms that happened to be trailing through the library saw me shaking and sweating and probably thought I was having a fit.
I’ve been leafing through it for the better part of two hours. Even now, it’s very…hard isn’t the word. It’s unsettling. It brings everything back.
Did you know that Goya painted many of his darker works on the walls of his home? He’d come down with some kind of physical affliction, something that destroyed his hearing and ruined his nerves. He felt stifled, inside all the time, and began to transcend the limitations of the canvas, spilling his dreams out onto his surroundings. He painted wars and nightmares. They’re called his “Black Paintings.” They’d be hard to look at even without what happened.
See anything you recognize?
I did a bit of Googling myself ( hey, I own a computer, after all ) and found this one online ( notice the hats )The whole thing just feels overwhelming. I mean, I can remember that first night like it was yesterday. I remember sleeping on the floor, remember gazing up at the ceiling and seeing the pictures there – brushed on with those huge, rough strokes of his – certainly no masterwork, but evocative and powerful because of their amateurishness.
The hardest, though, was the last page. I had to put the book down, but I snapped a picture for you:
The inscription is Spanish. It says: “Wretched humanity, the fault is yours.”
The worst part? Check out the bottom of the page.
What are we doing, Sig?