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Try to Praise the Mutilated World


Adam says: try to praise the mutilated world. Well, you know what? Just this moment my throat is a little dry, from shouting undeserved praises at it. Can I take a time out from praising? Can I have a moment to collect my thoughts and gather up the energy to read what's in front of me and delude myself into thinking that it counts as inspiration and not some new dreadful monster?

I need a breather. I need to get some account of myself before I can even think about looking around.

Adam says no: no, you must praise the mutilated world. Ha. There's a good one. Must.

I've walked around with sore hands from writing in this notebook here, just how great the world is. Its apple trees. Its blue skies. Its blue waters, reflecting the blue skies. The color blue, generally. So great. It reminds me of everything but the world's mutilations. Its scars. Mountains covered in snow. I've seen them too. Guess what? I praised them. The looping arcs of my late-adolescent script bear testament to their sigh-inducing perfection. I sat in the Swiss grass and looked at the same Alps that Goethe or whoever hiked up to, and I confirmed their beauty. I stared into streets choking with life, throbbing with the fortunes of millions, soaked in their dreams (or tried to listen for them in a foreign tongue) and emerged restored. I heard the call to prayer ring out and was humbled in the silence.

I just don't want to fake it. I know what hides in those blue waters, and who put it there. They're in no great need of praising. And the apples that I buy in stores are covered in wax. They make my mouth itch. They're mealy from sitting on trucks for days on end in refrigerated crates, waiting for my mouth. I have no praise for apples that make me itch. Or for snow on mountains.

Sometimes all this world-praising feels like complicity. The beauty of alpine peaks furnished with lazily chewing cows, of autumn's crisp winds, of white rooms with swaying curtains and tangled bodies. Of silences between the various calls to prayer that we have to heed. "Wait a minute," I suddenly have to interrupt, "how did I get here again?"

Let me say it this way: I walked in the Tiergarten with the soft breeze at my back and suddenly I felt the ground shake with falling munitions. Or was it the metro? I've been to the battlefields one it supposed to visit and felt the absences, the chill of the bones in the ground.

Bottom line: don't tell me that I must praise anything, buddy. Give me the freedom to stare at the scars. To put my fingers into them and lick their tips. To do the opposite of praise, for at least a little while. To sit in the middle of this field and eat this mealy apple and wait for something.

And then, when I'm done, to peel back the wrapping on a cough drop. To pull out a different pen. To get back to the work of inventing reasons for praise.