Workout 14 July 2012: Absent thee from felicity awhile

Unknown Helper Face-Off

Edward G. Nilges, Angels Spread Rumors of Angels, pencil, pen, computer modifications. (C) 2012 Edward G. Nilges. Moral rights asserted. That is (das ist) it’s “fair use” if you like my art and print it as I do on a color printer and then frame it, hanging it in your room (but you can also email me and I’ll sign and frame an original for a couple hundred dollars). But it is not fair to use this image on your CD even if your music sucks and you don’t sell a single disk. In such ventures get in touch with me at

A pathetic workout in the physio room since it took place too soon after breakfast; approximately ten minutes arm pulls and leg pushes.

Another week with no discharge date and not much improvement in my ability to mosey around Grantham which bodes ill for a successful return to my Lamma home. I lay abed, or occasionally crouch and scuttle with my cane (a “walking stick”, I’ve discovered, in British English) to the convenience store or garden whilst groaning like my Dad when I cared for him. It ryalleh hurts as when Chahlie bit me and it’s still hurting…

Ah, ai-YAH, people fear this and make this, for me, a sudden collapse in my powers, a reason for not celebrating the joy I felt running in Paris, but that is such nonsense and to me a sin against Creation.

Ideally I’d move out of this hostel to a halfway house or monastery where I’d live communally and seek clarity through labor: until my butt heals, writing and perhaps programming, and then agricultural work. My old life (solitary in an apt) was the problem, I need to be with others and make a contribution.

I’m afraid that if I go back to my old life that that will simply cause me to develop another problem requiring readmission to Queen Mary. A typical urban death like that of a divorced father living conveniently above O’Toole’s on Dearborn. Who discommodes nobody anymore.

Pain as I think Wittgenstein said is always private, and while we can compare a pain with our previous pain, I have no way of now how bad the other’s pain is in an absolute way. I can use empirical signals: for example, a United States airman, critically burned all over his body in a crash over North Vietnam, gripped the solid steel railing of his bed while his massive burn was being “debrided” (removing dead tissue) in such a way as to leave the impression of his fingers In the solid steel. I doubt that I would have the heart to allow the debridement to proceed at least without painkillers that would not allow me to remember that I’d marked the steel.

My pain “probably” less than the pain endured by burn victims such as this guy, and note that it is an interesting conundrum, for philosophers only, that it’s meaningful to make this “empirical” assertion (that my pain is probably not as bad) but that assertion is unverifiable.

But such enquiries aside I’d hypothesize, with no way of confirming or refuting it, that women are better with pain. My former wife endured 24 hours of labor in childbirth and my only comparative experience would be a couple of weeks ago and straining to poo while constipated.

In Hong Kong aging shop clerks stand for 12 or more hours with their own edema or deep vein thrombosis and they dare not complain for fear of losing their jobs…there is a disability plan here but it pays little more than 200 US dollars a month: with that you’re not even “talking” a room at the Chung King Mansions: you’re “talking” a wire cage.

But as my late son once Tweeted, self-imposed austerity fascinates and attracts me as it did him: my late son told me I need not be the Stoic while he himself had his Mom as a role model for self-denial.

My son knew that I wanted reunification with his Mom and that insofar as I did not pursue this Einigkeit I denied who I was … for I think my son had read in Žižek that the saint is she who does what she *really* wants.

My son did learn a valuable lesson from me and my credit cards: that in California it’s fun to eat a lavish meal (a big pizza, say, with Cokes for the kids and cheap wine for me, with Caesar salad up front and chocolate cake for dessert to follow, out of doors on a gorgeous late afternoon). To spin around Silicon Valley in my new Ford Escort with me popping the clutch and driving too slow. To go to Fry’s Electronics and nerd out on Saturday morning.

I think that the reason why this stuff seemed so fun in Silicon Valley and not in Chicago was that the weather in Chicago was always God’s Judgement on a Wicked City, and as such questioned why you needed to trudge to the computer store or Chuck E Cheeze Pizza Time Theater. Whereas California’ sunshine always said, let’s GO.

I may have to get used to the simple idea that accomplishing simple errands such as going out for groceries or a sandwich from the Lamma Grille (yum) might just be hard. To get groceries or a Snarfburger, I may have to draw my breath in pain even as Hamlet admonished Horatio:

Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain…

They told me in rehab in 2000 that “acceptance” is the key to my problems, the fulcrum around which I spin saying at first this I cannot accept and then saying “thy will be done” (fiat voluntas tua) when pitched into space by the problem, like Goofy on the ski-jump. But Acceptance here is a big job. I was doing great until my brother called last September, saying sit down and chill out, I have bad news.

I’m angry with my poor son perhaps because he played, structurally, the role of my wife, his Mom, to my sang-froid and to my bouncy response, to my father when my father said back in the 1990s that I was “whistling in a graveyard” when in response to joblessness I was if you don’t, in my experience, need sang-froid when looking for work.

And even more when your doctor says “I don’t have good news”. Sang-froid, not Sangria although the latter might be indicated for those of us who can handle Sangria!

I was doing great in the summer of 2012 and my son, by taking his own life, poured very cold water all over what I’d accomplished just like his Mom or grandfather. The manic element in my bloodline is always targeted, perhaps at the genetic level, by the depressive element.

Where is there an end to it, the soundless wailing,
The silent withering of autumn flowers
Dropping their petals and remaining motionless;
Where is there an end to the drifting wreckage,
The prayer of the bone on the beach, the unprayable
Prayer at the calamitous annunciation?

There is no end, but addition: the trailing
Consequence of further days and hours,
While emotion takes to itself the emotionless
Years of living among the breakage
Of what was believed in as the most reliable –
And therefore the fittest for renunciation.

TS Eliot, The Dry Salvages, Four Quartets



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