My Latest Trite Observation about Living in New York
New York is well known as both the center of willfully ignoring the presence of the people who are smooshed up against you & also the capitol of people-watching. The former skill is necessary for a city in which humanity is piled upon itself with such density, but it is also a kind of art.
One can take pride in the ability to continue reading Harpers while a guy dressed in four pairs of shredded pants sings commercial jingles in an ear-splitting falsetto. One can stand pressed against another human & consider them nothing more than matter.
On the subway yesterday, heading to the hip-shoe & fixie-bike part of Brooklyn I was packed into the train. I could not give you the slightest description of any of the people I was in physical contact with. I had my space & they had their spaces & we negotiated slightly when the train swayed us.
Then from across the bus I heard someone talking about their brother having cancer, it was the kind of conversation I'd imagine having over a drink with a friend, or inside a house. It seemed like an interior conversation. But the city is the 'third space' in New York.
I was reading an essay I've read dozens of times before, preparing to discuss it in my class Monday. We've been discussing the politics of language use, from the radical to the banal. The paper in this book is that slick, bright white paper. Like the words might slip off if the reader is not careful.
The man across the subway said "The thing is you can't live without your pancreas." Suddenly I could feel the body behind me pressing into my side & my bag brushing against a woman in a white sweatshirt. I looked around & saw that the people on the subway have faces. They each have their own face. When you're alone in your own space you only have your own face.
It's true. You can't live without your pancreas. You can't live without your body. You can't live without your breath. A pancreas is true. A hand is true. It's the true shit that makes me lose it. It's the true shit that makes me.