Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thinking About Forever

This is in no particular order. My ex girlfriend is a distinguished professor at one of the world’s most respected universities. My ex girlfriend shacked up with some rich dude from eastern Washington then went to South Korea to teach English. My ex girlfriend is an aesthetician and the last time I saw her she worked at a fancy salon. My ex girlfriend has two cute kids, is a radical bike rider and a substitute teacher. My ex girlfriend is a lawyer that works on same-sex legal issues. My ex girlfriend married an Army guy and moved to Texas. My ex girlfriend is a psychologist and has her practice in the same neighborhood in east Portland where she grew up. My ex girlfriend is an intern at a crummy magazine. My ex girlfriend used to do commercials and I looked up an old ad of hers on Youtube. My ex girlfriend is a professional farrier. My ex girlfriend stayed in Los Angeles and raised a family. My ex girlfriend married a real estate agent and lives in the suburbs. My ex girlfriend models, sells fancy underwear, and we have started hanging out again because, apparently, we are not done making each other act crazy.

Frank Ocean sings, “I’ve been thinking about you/Do you think about me still/Do ya, do ya?” (also, this video is fucked up). We always wonder, don’t we? And sometimes the past feels safe and sometimes it feels raw, and sometimes I wish that there was only one past, one memory of lost love to hold on to.  Instead there is this diffuse network of affection, spread over twenty some odd years for me. I see their faces as we sit to dinner, hear them sleeping next to me while I read, smell them in my apartment after they have left for the day or for good. Trying hard to make a good impression with the family, buying presents out of joy or out of duty, jealousy over nothing, laughing hard with tears in your eyes, a head nuzzling into your side, the stupid argument that is the excuse for finally breaking up. I’ve been thinking about you. Do you think about me still?

“Or do you not think so far ahead?/’Cause I’ve been thinking about forever.” The forbidden thought. This is not a world of casual connections, otherwise the images wouldn’t last. But nonetheless it feels like a world of impermanent things. Perhaps this is the effect of the transitory quality of modernity. “All that is solid melts into air,” said Marx and Engels long ago. And for sure the bourgeois age is defined by the intensification and the quickened pace of temporal cycles. Whatever the historico-philosophical explanation for the sense of impermanence, it is the feeling of our moment. “Happy are those ages in which the starry sky is the map of all possible paths,” wrote Lukács in the greatest sentence in all of theory. Our age is very different. The past is a tangle of roads that converge very briefly on the present, then everything arrays before you, leading to nowhere in particular.

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