I just don't know, man, I've never been much of a diarist. Not enough patience. I can start an entry but I rarely finish it. Something always distracts me… Wait, there's someone at the door…
Where was I? Taro may be my friend, but he's weird, you know. In the past, he would always come to me with his problems, which invariably involved a girl who let him fuck her up the ass, and he would think he was in love with her. In reality she usually was on the rebound and he was her interim cock-on-call, and heartbreak would spread. College-level drama.
I called him yesterday and of course the conversation turned to whether I was employed yet. I'm not, and that fact got him incredibly tense. How many jobs have you applied to, he asked. I don't remember exactly, I said, maybe five. It'll have to be a whole lot more than that, buddy, he told me with a nervous chuckle. Well, I said, I'm trying to avoid the problem I had with my last job that made me miserable because I didn't give a rat's ass about what I was doing. I want to be a writer, I told him, and to support such a stupid hobby, I want a day job that accomplishes something I care about.
Days stretch thick and slow in my apartment; uneasy conversations break their flow like a metal tooth breaks a dazzling white smile. After hanging up with Taro, I understood the source of uneasiness: he is not used to hearing about others' problems; he's used to talking about his own. An unfamiliar role makes him clam up. Rest easy, Taro, I shall bother you no more…
What was I talking about? Ah yes, as I said, I'm not much of a diarist. I like to record ideas but recently the ideas that visit have been either incredibly stupid or so complex that I couldn't put them down to my satisfaction. Consider this: a device is invented, called the Universal Assembler. It is just what it sounds like, a machine that can take an object, read its composition and, given the right raw materials, make its exact duplicate. The idea is old hat in sci-fi but I have never seen a good account of what such an invention would do to people's way of life. Think of the modern system of manufacturing. Think of the issues of authenticity in art, and the attendant philosophical ramifications. Think, most importantly, about replicating humans, and the attendant philosophical ramifications of that. I want to write something that would explore all these issues but the topic is huge, like Gargantua after a hearty meal, and I'm merely chipping away at it right now by making disparate notes on its various aspects which I grasp, usually, in the shower. I do my best thinking in the shower.
My ideas may be fragmented but that's not all that keeps me from writing. What hounds me the most every time I type something into this frighteningly clean white screen is the ugliness of my words. I read and wince; sentences cut my eyes like barbed wire, every blemish a rusty sharp point. I am throwing away my chances of becoming a rich, fat, well-groomed investment banker; I'm wallowing in uncertainty about the source of next month's rent—for what? For cultivating my one doubtful talent, the one I wanted to use since I was six—playing with words.
I make Lanie cry. She a pragmatic, down-to-earth American woman, a freshly minted doctor. She honestly can't see what my problem is. When she first met me, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I became an economic consultant; something different but still promising. Then I quit consulting and ended up here, in Long Island, without money, saddled with debts and refusing to consider what seem to be my only financially viable prospects: more corporate work. She reads my stories and doesn't think much of them. I can dismiss her opinion by telling myself she doesn't know who Goethe is, but the problem is not opinions. The problem is what Chekhov called “a diffuse aching of the soul,” the atmosphere of quiet pain, shapeless, directionless and ineluctable, that settles over everything when we fight particularly badly. We suffer it together but alone, like two boxers bleeding in the opposite corners of the ring. We suffer it in silence, with averted eyes, after everything has been said and no resolution has been found.