Uncle Yarv #2: a softball
"A few faces I know remain."
Pedro from Kamchatka writes:
I am writing only because you expressly invite it, even from those of us who have held out against the allure of the upper grades of initiation into your scientological cult. I'm gonna say three things, quick, dirty and heartfelt, because I assume you are a busy man with a revolution to foment.
1. I don't understand at all those who think the last several posts about Circling (& NVC) are off-topic. The critique of ressentiment and its aliases and alibis is completely of a piece; whether you are addressing CRT or therapy-speak, what is in question is simply the coherence of the age's self-image.
It is a broad topic, and you are absolutely right. The psychology of power, for instance, is precisely the same whether personal or political. But although Gray Mirror readers are an elite bunch, expecting this level of understanding is just too much—it is always essential to understand those who do not understand.
I wrote about it because it had affected my life—and also because my old boss was always on about how I should humanize myself. (I shouldn’t have even mentioned my ex-girlfriend, though—I deleted that.)
2. The same complaint could be made (wrongly) regarding the poems you have posted. Are they beside the point when it comes to providing global leadership? In fact, I hope that at some future point you will post a multi-part reflection on poetics. Also, when it finally appears in print, I think Gray Mirror should have a preface in verse or something, to really evoke the Mirror-for-Princes vibe. (I was too late to subscribe & benefit with the free book, but I'll be buying one when the time comes).
I don’t like the way you use this word, finally. I know! It’s been a funky summer! My next project on the book, by the way, will not be to extend the current chapters, but redraft (and finally record!) them—then continue forward from the middle.
Obviously, once I have provided global leadership, my verses will be taught in all the schools. But you weren’t supposed to say that, were you?
3. And last: The post of yours that has kicked me in the teeth by you was The Divorce. “... stopped sharing her location with you”—I don't know if I've read a more Orphic (in the etymological sense) one-sentence account of death.
Since April I have kept you & your family in prayer (which may mean less than nothing to you & is always a little risky to mention—look at my piety—but in fact my prayers are very on-again-off-again, and besides, the theory is, it doesn't matter what it means to either of us).
If I have an actual question for Uncle Yarv, it's: how do you cope with grief, love, & vulnerability, at the same time as fostering the “white-hot hatred” of “bad ideas” that is at the root of your critique? And to be clear, this question is about self-help; I think it is likely not just myself who wrestles with the allure of cynicism, self-congratulation, or some other ego-food, having glimpsed something beyond the shadows playing on the frame of the Overton window.
One day at a time? I have evolved a kind of personal stoicism. For a long time my favorite poem has been Bunting’s Chomei at Toyama. “A few faces I know remain.” Maybe my oddest connection to the 20th century was that I once had a drink with Thom Gunn—who recommended Bunting to me, and whom he must have met.
With Marcus Aurelius and many others from many cultures, I feel the secret of life can be put in a line I first read in a Heinlein juvenile: to eat what is set on your plate.
My wife saved all her diaries, and I have been reading them, a little, now and then. Actually most of the notebooks are dialogue for plays and other such writing, but there is plenty of introspection—nothing that much surprises me, yet still deeply moving. But I haven’t looked at any of the ones about me yet!
No man should ever be in the position to feel okay about reading his wife’s diary. And yet: what an exquisitely savage experience! I knew I loved Jen in 2002—now I can also love her in 1999, when she had the hots for that director who was as old as I am now. I’m afraid girls these days just don’t compare. RIP, Jen.
It’s actually my readers, of course, who keep me going round. Thank you! And thanks even more to my subscribers. Not in theory, but actually in my actual lived experience, every one of you is amazing…