Today I read

a father’s day scrawl on a box of cookies. When I’m writing about people, I think for the most part I have to have them outside the room. Having their physical presence in proximity confounds the actual with my inevitably virtual representation of whatever aspect I’m writing about. I try this sometimes, writing with the person in the room, and it never works out. Like when I’m compending (word?) some caricature of a professor in a lecture hall; the mess fucks up.

TIR Elif Batuman’s “The Idiot,” and here are some words I liked from the last pages:

Then something changed. My life no longer seemed like a movie to me. Ivan was still in the movie, but had left me behind. Nothing extraordinary was happening anymore, or would ever happen again. I was just there with my relatives, living pointless, shapeless days that weren’t bringing me any closer to anything. It seemed to me that this state of affairs was a relief to my mother. From her perspective, I thought, the past weeks had been a perilous, temporary adventure, something to be endured, and now things were back to normal. It was painful to feel at such cross-purposes with her. Almost everything that was interesting or meaningful in my story was, in her story, a pointless hazard or annoyance. This was even more true with my aunts. They didn’t take anything I did seriously; it was all some trivial, mildly annoying side activity that I insisted on for some reason, having nothing to do with real life. I couldn’t challenge or contradict this view, even to myself, because I really didn’t know how to do anything real. I didn’t know how to move to a new city, or have sex, or have a real job, or make someone fall in love with me, or do any kind of study that wasn’t just a self-improvement project. pg. 152

I tried to hang out with my peer group, Defne, Murat, and Yudum, but was unable to assimilate myself to their mode of being. They seemed always to be waiting for something, for the removal of some obstacle—for a business to open, for the sun to move, or for someone to come back from going to get something. Whenever they actually did anything, like go in the water, eat lunch, or walk somewhere, they did it in an abstracted, halfhearted way, as if to show that this was just a side diversion from the main business of waiting. All they talked about was when the thing they were waiting for was going to happen. But whenever that thing did happen, nothing seemed to change. The sense of provisionality was the same, it just gradually found a new object. pg. 151

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