Subject, thirty-three, contemplated writing a confessional post that pointed to certain emotions established by (a) two phone calls, one currently unreturned, (b) the ontological isthmus from one apartment to another that must be crossed in the next two weeks, and (c) watching a late-period Woody Allen film, flawed but interesting, on Tuesday night, accompanied by aperitif but no meal. Subject did not consider (d) a lengthy book he was reading which was both profoundly moving and profoundly disturbing, a book he was rereading with what he assumed was greater wisdom and the troubling dilemma that his own age was closer to that of the protagonist. Book susceptibility hit him again, had him thinking of his own life in the third person, just as this book depicted a fictional character’s life in the third person. Subject has since shifted over to an enjoyable space opera book to improve mood. But subject now ponders precisely why the book in question caused him to momentarily consider breaking that personal threshold between himself and readers. Not that subject would reveal everything exactly. And not that subject is depressed. But subject is currently wondering why some books hit him just as hard in the heart as real-life encounters. Subject does not feel a particular sense of shame at being moved by fictional characters, but he does find the emotional crossover to be more than a bit goddam peculiar. Perhaps this is why subject had contemplated spilling emotions in some sense. Or perhaps subject is susceptible to text because he is currently proceeding forth with his own novel, in which he feels very deeply about his characters, even as he shifts them into terrible scenarios and must hear their cries of pain and anguish. But if subject felt sufficiently empathetic, why then did he do this? Because it was true, subject rationalizes. Even though this being the terrain of fiction, it is decidedly not true. Sure, subject has lifted a few ideas from personal experience, subverted and obverted many of them, modified them, found some surprising parallels and differences between self and subjects. So why then the sudden empathy overload that subject customarily feels for humans being transposed into fiction, both penned by subject and read by subject? Subject does not feel that he is retreating into this narrative, but he does sometimes feel that he is occupying this textual territory a bit longer than he feels comfortable. Subject carries on because he must perform his daily duty. But subject wonders why he decided to continue anew with this text while shifting residences and trying to extinguish sundry fires. No wonder subject has been taking more naps and feeling more exhausted. Subject now understands why novel writing is “difficult.” The hypocrisies of making characters miserable while likewise empathizing with them has subject wondering whether there are similar hypocrisies in his day-to-day dealings with everyday people, who are not invented and who have considerably more complex feelings than anything he could possibly set down on paper. It occurs to subject that the novelists he admires are those who tend to feel this moral conflict, and that those who do not are probably not doing their job. Then again, subject does not have a shitload of novels behind him. So perhaps this is all naivete on his part.
© 2008, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.