Friday, April 08, 2011

Amoung the loss of words, the frustrations of dying I send postcards and sell on Ebay.

I spent 30 years studying the entirety of the English language. I studied over 1,000 years of English in over 30,000 books. I learned to translate 17th century French, my final was to translate a decree from the King regarding the tax on glass makers and sellers of glass in the city. I studied latin, from the obscene graffiti in Pompeii to the lurid plays of 100 B.C. to 200 A.D. All so I could understand English: I exploited it, consumed it, reveled in the odd and needless complexity of the Corinthian set and compared it to the Green Carnations attempts to hack to language and dream center of the brain (all 100 years before Snow Crash by Stephenson). Robert Chamber’s attempt to explain the influence of the Yellow Book, Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley’s lure into the lurid, tawdy assault which dragged all who saw, participated, or was inspired by the ‘Yellow Set’ was to write a book. It is a book about a book called ‘The King in Yellow’, and each story of the book is about characters’ inspiration within the arts; shattering the perceived boundaries of language. And out of that rift into the horizon of the imaginable, that blank part of the map of morality and art, there crept in madness. But it was a madness of awe, the thunderous church organ overwhelming the senses until the self…..and sin, were lifted away.

That is how Robert Chambers described his experiences in Paris, at the Fin de Siecle (end of the century) when Munch and Wilde along with all artists influenced by the Aesthetics broke rules simply for breaking. He read and saw M.P. Shiel’s opium inspired works, and Machen, as Occult combined with Religion, Gnostic with Erotic, and in all things, sensual and symbolic. So in Chambers’ book all those who see the book The King in Yellow (referring to Wilde’s Yellow Book) became genuis’ and morally lost, infested with ancient decay. It is what inspired Oxford Don M.R. James, Lord Dunstay, later Lovecraft and eventually, up in the mountains of California, Clarke Ashton Smith, who read the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (the same edition I have – a leather one for sea captains). C.A. Smith’s works kept the linguistic torch burning. He was, like Lovecraft and Conan Doyle’s (I also have the entire run of the Strand Magazine in original bindings from the start for the first 18 years) detective fiction, a unique voice. By the By, April Dereleth of Arkham House, which printed Lovecraft, Henry Whitehead and William Hope Hodgson to Ray Bradbury’s Dark Carnival ( died March 21st, 2011 leaving sales and all other aspects of Arkham House suspended at present.

I have groped, over the last 90 minutes and two paragraphs, for language, and trying to explain the frustration of ‘words’ after reading Boewulf and Chaucer in the original. I read, wrote, and read again the subtle meanings and connections of 1600-1910 language in books from the King James Bible to Falkners’, The Lost Stradivarius, and they ran in the background of my mind. At all times, words were examined, reexamined, and I kept from boredom by listing, as listening, the other meanings of the words and sentences uttered. (“I hacked away at language’ – a) hack from the news hacks of Dickens times, hawkers and later when the press was printed on Yellow Paper and akin to Fox News, more entertainment than news, a ‘hack’ – news reporter, ergo, I am a base worker of language or b) hack – to ride, a horse, to take to point, thus ‘I take my words to a steady canter’ or c) hack – from 1980’s to break, to find the holes and pass the metasystem, ergo to write beyond language or d) hack, from labour particularly woodsmen, to hew and hack, to take down with brute attacks of an axe or blade – it is this last one. This is how I would think, in the background of my mind, in less than a second.

But it is all gone. I wanted, like Murphy (he created the Oxford English Dictionary) to know English of ALL times.

A worker asked me how much IQ I had lost. I thought it was about 50 points, but up to 120 at times. I don’t know how to calculate the loss in how I think, or how I don’t. How I struggle to remember what I do next, or to stammer and find words to express the feeling, the one which means I need to pee.

I rebooted today, or lost a day entirely and all of the memory of what happened before it. Exercise mades me strong, but it also cost me all the corners I cut. I lay burning in pain for 12+ hours while my body did not die but repaired itself, and in doing so made me stupid. The problem with the book Flowers for Algernon is that is stops too soon. Those who read it are saddened by Charlie going back to the past, but it does not tell us of Charlie’s daily life as he must deal with what he knows he was, and could do, and what he is, and must do.

I will die. And I will die fairly soon. The tree of cherry blossoms I saw going out of boxing I will not see again. It was my first time out since the hospital 8 days earlier. Earlier on this blog, I wrote about dying, because I was trying to prepare myself and examine what dying meant, and what I would mean to those around me.

I don’t write about dying very much because I am too busy doing it.

I don’t know when I will wake, or sleep, and I work and struggle to stay alive. When I box and sweat, and push myself, I feel myself teetering on an edge. Today I was to get my hair cut. I had showered, and I was ready, and had spent 2 days getting ready. But I was too sick, and slept 7 hours beyond my appointment, waking from the sound of my moans, and my heart studdering and trembling with agitation to wake me. The body jerks so badly I cannot see clearly. “Is it now?” I wonder.

The people who wait, maybe they have something left to say, maybe not, for they are in a world which to me is like high school. There are those people at work, and those at home and everyone wants to believe that things will remain the same. And the focus is on today and tomorrow and ‘Did you hear about…’, and so the struggle to talk, once every few days, in belaboured, slow strokes, becomes lost in the background noise.

Aren’t you angry that I can love something so much, like the evening light on the buds of emerging blossoms, and yet, will never see it again? That my actions now are so deliberate because I can’t risk it being otherwise? I am. I’m angry. Yet I can’t show it.

The latest loss is strong emotion. I have the emotions but have learned that to feel them, to let myself become agitated or excited means that my heart and heat jumps the regulated limits of what can be sustained. And I lie back, calling for help to bed, because I got overcome with emotion.

I cry, but with a face that is bland, and breathing that is controlled and counted. I groan, as a passenger in my own body yet the center nexus of suffering. This is what it takes to survive. And actions, like boxing, are done without the knowledge of what comes next: death, bed, delirium, revival?

Ebay this week, all week. I worked hard this week on the ebay auction. The first 40+ lots of manga, and some graphic novels are here, with 30+ more to come on Sunday, all finishing next Sunday and posted two days later. Most are out of print lots and several are selling for the price of just ONE of the volumes (for example the Queen’s Knight volume 12 sells for $70, but I am selling all 12 volumes, as New for $50). The volumes are quality and I hope they go to good homes. I will not have time or strength to read them again. I will talk about the sale more next time.

The other thing I have worked on, ever single waking moment is to build funds to pay back Linda and Cheryl what they have kindly lent me, mostly for gifts or postcards. At the same time, I am working on postcards, gifts to send and letters. I want very much to say 'goodbye' individually to each person (which takes planning and effort) but don't want to limit myself to just one 'goodbye' postcard. I don't know if I will live three weeks, three days, or six months (the last is something no one really believes, even me, except on the best days, for a few hours). I want to try and send out postcards that require less stamping, and more stickers (the stamping makes my heart hurt like getting crushed by a Rugby player). I want to write those who are and have been friends. In my Amazon Wish List (you can use the link at the top right as well), you will see that I have added lots of sticker sets, which all happen to be in the ‘buy 4 and pay for 3’ sale. So that means, if you buy Classic Travel Poster Stickers(a fav of mine) and Stickers of WWI and II, Old Time Transportation Stickers (last one!), and Edward Hopper art, you get the last free.
If you scroll down, you will see different stationery sets, from Dark Horse, which I can write notes, as they usually have 6, 8 pages, but in different styles (pin-up girls, dragons, vampires, LENORE!!!!!! and goth girls!). These go with small gifts, or by themselves and that makes Stationery sets $3.75 each, while they last (they all have about 8 left or less). All these items are also 4 items for 3 and can mix and match with stickers or with stationery sets you want for yourself! There are also stamps we use. Every month we try to send out a ‘kids’ postcard to all those 15 and under. The dino set is reported to be the best for use and for reuse, and the other is of Emily the Strange. With Linda and Cheryl’s help I did over 200 postcards last month. I would be very happy with 100 this month, but I can’t do it anymore alone. If you notice more stickers on your postcard, it isn’t that I am not thinking of you, it is that I am thinking of you but expressing it in the ways I can.

I am very ill, and I am an invalid. That I still am able to communicate as much as I do is a blessing that I am thankful for. I know I won’t be able to for much longer.

Linda, who uses 25 post it notes a day, with her work on ebay, and applying for jobs and other spreadsheets, would love the Bettie Page post it note collection listed in the Wish List. The other items on the Wish List range from The Lost Room, a DVD set I want to watch with Cheryl (recommend!), to Wit, Emma Thompson on dying. I want to see if there is a way to do it funny, instead of just ‘this is how it is’. Maybe in getting out the message, I lose the funny somewhere.

There is also the usual manga series I am reading, and authors I can understand, and some things I am recommending for others (like Polar Obsessions, on sale!).

I have been finding and getting postcards, including ones from Alchemy 1977, which are very steampunk gothic, also gothic galore and will delight some.
They have a playing card set I lust and long for (on the wish list), as it has 53 postcards with amazing graphics and blood, soot and grit splattered cards to play. They also run a line of Steampunk, including this pendant Alchemy Empire Aeronautiqua which I want to get as a gift for someone. I am all a quiver to earn the funds for it (and then give it away).

When I saw the line of Alchemy 1977 products I got so excited I gave myself a heart issue and had to call and wheeze and get help and oxygen. This problem comes from a temporal lobe issue: I feel things with culmination, in an explosion of emotion as it washes from my frontal lobe back to my other lobes. Perhaps a time when having so many connections to my emotional center (as females do) is not such a gift (I do however enjoy films so much MORE now, but have a hard time, for a day or so afterward, convincing the self that I do NOT live in a zombie wasteland).

I need sleep now. This is what I do: work, communicate, sleep. I still work toward the things on the last list: panties, socks, haircut, red vines – and now, with postcards to hand, I want to disprove Linda by sending them all out (she said, “You have more postcards than you will need for the rest of your life!” – which is like saying ‘You have more books than you will need in your life’ – even if it is true, a person simply doesn’t SAY IT!). So I will prove her wrong, and send all the postcards out, the rare and the wild, the unique and delightful, all out, and read all the books too…..ha! So there!


Tina Russell said...

Holy mother of potatoes! (a Dilbert coinage) You read Beowulf and Chaucer in the original? I had to read some of the Canterbury Tales in the original in a lit class once, but I gave up quickly and found a contemporary English translation online. I couldn’t imagine tackling Beowulf. (To those who don’t know: Beowulf is written in Old English in the strictest sense, a language that you wouldn’t recognize as English, is from before the Anglo-Saxon conquests, and is more like a sort of proto-Welsh, I guess.)

(However! In that lit class, I _did_ perform a version of Hamlet, by myself, in five minutes using sock puppets I created.)

I take a lot of pride in my command of words, too, even if it’s not nearly as thorough as yours... that does sound so painful, when words have stood by you for so long and are starting to leave you.

Much love, Beth. I know, we say it a lot, but it can never be said enough: you are an amazing woman.

wendryn said...

I rather liked reading in Old English. I am very afraid of losing my words. There have been times when I've had a high fever and couldn't explain, and I have nightmares about not being able to use or find the words I want. I am so sorry you are there now. I don't have enough words to say anything that might help.

We're still here. *hugs* We love you.

cheryl g said...

When we first met and I began spending time with you and Linda it was after you got sick but before Japan, before the TIA’s, before the seizures, before the brain damage and dementia. I was aware that your brain was a type of supercomputer with data constantly processing. I was aware of your dizzying intellect and enjoyed our conversations. Over the course of these years I have watched you struggle with the damage to your brain. I have watched your pain and sorrow at losing the access to your words and memories and knowledge. The aspect of this disease I hate the most is how it robs you of everything – your intellect, your memories, your mobility, your independence, your choices, your future, your life.

Last weekend, like many weekends I left wondering if that was going to be our final good bye. I am very angry that you will not see cherry blossoms next year. I am angry that your future was taken away. I am angry that there are things you love doing that you will never do again. I am angry and sad and more than a little scared. I think sometimes that if this is what I feel – what you feel must be many times stronger.

For now, I hope each weekend as I leave that I will see you again the next weekend. I hope you get presents from the wish list because the books and dvd’s make you happy and help you cope with the pain. I help with postcards and enjoy the time we spend whether it is stamping or stickering. The Alchemy 1977 postcards look amazing. The flying machine pendant is super cool.

I will help you send all the postcards

Anonymous said...

I received two postcards yesterday, one for each of my sons. I want to thank you because I know how hard it is to get them ready to send out and the enormous amount of time and energy it demands. My sons liked the postcards very much, and you asked if my younger son plays baseball, actually he does, and "spring training" has started for the summer league. I have enjoyed receiving every postcard you have sent - I know that it is your way of sharing love with me and all of those in this world who sometimes feel alone and no one cares. It has been a wonderful project and I am sure there are many who have loved getting the cards who did not acknowledge receiving them, but I am sure that in some small way, each card has brightened someone's day. I have greatly enjoyed your blogs, and they will both honor and celebrate your life and give words to your struggle and pain, your courage and determination, long after you are gone. You are an extraodinary woman Beth, and I am so honored to have had the chance to get to know you through your written words, even though we never had the chance to meet in person. You have fought the good fight, and you have made a difference.

{{ gentle hugs }} from OHIO