April 28, 2017 (Friday)

by Yule Heibel on April 27, 2018

Yesterday the sun came out. Yesterday I walked, and yesterday I eventually stopped at T.[cafe]. John Coltrane’s “Favorite Things” was playing quietly in the background. I decided then and there that T. will be my new favorite cafe.

It’s foggy right now. My head still feels foggy. I can see the house below me (its roof, anyway), and the houses across the street from it. I can also see the houses in the street behind them, and I can see one further level (another street) behind that. But that’s all. Every tree, house, hill or slope, and horizon line behind that level is swallowed by the fog.

A single black crow just flew past my window, about thirty feet out. She flew in a perfectly straight horizontal line. No arcs, no deviations. Just a straight horizontal, like the lines in my notebook on which my handwriting, so early, so vision-blurry, tries to stay – and often fails. My writing seems to swoop up and down off the lines like a drunken bird. Not Madame Crow, who flew from right to left. Was she a mirror of sorts? I’m writing conventionally, for this language, from left to right. Was she from another country where right to left writing is the norm? If crows could write, how would they symbolize their coarse and guttural caw-caws? Sounds which are strangely melodic in their harsh ugliness, too?

Write me a letter, Ms Crow, hold it in escrow till I can collect it.

Yesterday I sent E. and A. an email about an article calling Vancouver the loneliest city. It was in The Guardian, and I had found it through an article I read in The Week (?) that questioned or rather described how “smart cities” are set to make us even more socially isolated, and how loneliness is a growing phenomenon. The Vancouver link was an aside, but I decided to mail that link to E. and A., along with a link to the article about smart cities. E. came back with a really brilliant, insightful (and vividly written) reply about how the Downtown Eastside (DTES) and its social problems contribute very strongly (if perhaps obliquely) to Vancouver’s culture of ignoring other people, even people in distress. This prompted two replies from me, whereby my second one was maybe more interesting with regard to a more general picture of social breakdown. I was reminded, as I was out walking (and stopped on a bench at D.-Street Beach to research and write) of Phil Ochs’s “topical song,” “Small Circle of Friends,” and how, well, topical it once again is.

I should make a proper Evernote about this – my initial email, E.’s response, my responses. Sometimes I wonder – since my “insight emails” seem to get no further responses from them – whether I steamroll too much, leaving no breathing room. Or whether they’re rolling their eyes, going tl:dr. I feel, on some level, that insecure.

One thing pop culture has done over the past few decades is to elevate feelings of insecurity, even if neurotic, to an unseemly level of normalcy. I wonder if this wasn’t done – or is a development / reaction to – because we’ve become so familiar with its opposite: the representation in popular culture of bluster, of empty signifying of nothing. The outrage economy needs its counterpart, after all: the neurotic, insecure individual. Why? Because it’s easy to throw stones at outrage, to poke holes in its blustery facade, to make snide remarks, be sarcastic. Then, the neurotic insecurity kicks in. What’s missing on all counts is a balanced, authoritative, adult self.

Onward, into the fog.

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