The Catullus Sessions: #3

Screenshot 2015-07-21 23.38.47This afternoon, he sat for a few moments after the greetings were over– near the edge of the chair, elbows on his knees, head in his hands.  He was planning, strategizing.

“So you think I am an angry person?”

“I think that anger is one of the primary ways you react to the world.”

“It’s who I am.”

“Do you enjoy that.”

“What?”

“The anger.”

“No. Who would? It’s who I am.”

“We tell ourselves stories all the time.  Who we are, what this situation, that situation, is all about.  In our brains there are non-stop narratives.  And to preserve some sense of…continuity, our brain forms its default settings.”

“So my story is about anger.”

“I’m guessing you assess many situations in terms of the anger they cause you.”

“You mean the situations provoke me.”

“Yes and no.  At this point, you envision the world in such a way that anger is…automatically built-in.”
Why automatic?  Don’t I have a choice?”
“Yes.  But you aren’t using it?”

“I act the way I act.”

“You mean the way you’ve chosen to act.  And you can choose differently.”

“My father was a financier.  Worked on Wall Street.  Quite successful.  My older brother followed in his footsteps.  But my father early on realized I wasn’t good with numbers, or didn’t care about numbers.  So he pegged me for an attorney.”

“Are you an attorney?”

He exploded in laughter.  I was caught off-guard.

“No.  I have my degree.  My license.  But…no.”

“Why?”

“Because every time I sat down to write a brief, poetry come out.”

“Poetry?”

“Yes.  I’m a poet.”

“And angry.”

“Yes.. angry.  I just can’t stomach even the little things people do– little bits of carelessness.  I am fascinated by social behavior.  People trying to be what they’re not.  Trying to seem clever.  Trying to create what they consider the right persona.  If I weren’t so peeved, it would be funny.”

“For example?”

“A man who thinks he has to smile all the time. Someone must have told him that smiling makes a great first impression. If someone is telling him about a divorce or an illness, he’s smiling. Or he’s at the wake of a mother who lost her son–he’s smiling.”

“Really?”

“He thinks he’s sophisticated.  Urbane.  There is nothing more disgusting than a disgusting smile.”

“And that angers you?”

“Yes. Deeply.”

“It doesn’t have to.”

“Or this guy who is always doing something idiotic at dinner parties.  Like secretly stealing people’s napkins.  He thinks he’s cute, suave…charming.  He’s embarrassing, especially to his younger brother.”

“And that–”

“Gets me angry?  Yes.”

“You seem sensitive to… indelicacies.”

“To injustice.  Bad manners are a form of injustice.  There are right ways to act.  Right ways to treat each other.”

“It means that much too you?”

“An acquaintance of mine is so convinced that he is a great poet that, at every opportunity, he stands up and recites his poems in some feigned British accent. God! They are awful. He’s no better than a goat-milker. Or this guy–I am not kidding you– who is so into his health.  He sees himself as the model. Even down to his bowel movements.  He claims that his shit is never messy. That if we wanted, we could stick a finger up there, and it would come out perfectly clean every time.”

“You have… interesting acquaintances.”

“But it’s all the same.  It’s about being so fucking full of yourself.  The belief that your world is so fucking big that everyone lives in it.  Everyone needs to listen to you.”

“That really angers you.”

“Of course.”

“If you are tired of being angry, I can help.”

“You can make these idiots behave themselves?”

“No. But I can help you not to notice.”

“You can do that?”

No.  But you can.”

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