Misery loves taxidermy

Talking with my mother about Spalding Gray, she remarked that in his monologues he is always very controlled and distinguished and professional: almost the impersonal narrator of his own tale. He describes things that are very difficult experiences some times, but doesn’t let emotion slip himself, or covers it with dry humor.

Based on what we know about his own emotional life, though, he’s often very overwhelmed.

I realize that this is my technique as well. When I have an insoluble problem or an unhealed injury, I throw a net of words at it. Frame it this way and that, do it as dialogue or story or poem, do it in the second or third person. The completely unacceptable things in my life turn into Exercices de Style soon enough.

This has the effect of drenching my friends in my own tears to an extent and makes me look like a real whiner at times. However, I think it’s what keeps me alive. Lately, when I’m in a state of need and failure that I haven’t had in 15 years, prose is all I’ve got.

And unlike poor Spalding, I haven’t jumped off any ferries. Besides, if I jumped off the ferry in my town I’d just be in six feet of gross bay water.

2 thoughts on “Misery loves taxidermy

  1. I tend to do the same thing. Someone once asked me, at a shockingly bewilderingly difficult moment in my life, what had happened. So I told them the story in fairytale prose with wry meta-commentary. It took an hour with al lthe flourishes. But in retrospect it was the only way I could put it into words without breaking down and sobbing. Distilling angst into prose and all that shit.
    Thanks. For being willing to share with me when that’s happening. I read every word of it, even when I’m left speechless, and you never have to worry about feeling that you’re “overwhleming” or spammy or something like that.

  2. I have a similar habit, although I’m not nearly as literate as you are. I tend *not* to relate them to all but a select crowd, because the average joe doesn’t really appreciate the strange thoughts and inappropriate ideas that smack into me when I’m experiencing things (like the Lenny/George incident when the police told me my dad had died).
    I don’t think you look like a whiner at all. I wish I could be more up front about the sadnesses inside me, because I think I’d probably be better off if I vented some of them instead of sitting on them.
    I’ve been thinking too much about Mr. Gray. I saw him perform Monster In A Box when he was here some years ago, and have read/seen almost everything else he’s ever done. He’s just so open about himself, or seems that way, that one can’t help but feel close to him somehow. It’s very true that he covers things, but he also, at least in his monologues, lets the real O_O feelings he gets peek out from time to time, and leaves you hanging in the moments like that sometimes, without giving you any respite. It’s effective, because it really makes you feel like, well, like you would feel in that situation, where it’s bad, but there really isn’t anywhere to *go*. Live with it, honk honk, waaah.
    I guess I’m sort of scared a bit because I know that if he has run off and quietly offed himself, that it’s the way I would do it. There’s a certain approach to the “help me I’m suicidal” thing that obviously differs greatly from the “ok, I’m leaving” thang, and having been on both ends, I know I’m capable of both. I sort of hate knowing that.
    Blah blah blah. A post about you turns into me blathering. I hope that’s ok. Anyway, like I say, I never feel like you’re a whiner or anything. I want to help whether I can or not. Even when I can’t, I think I learn something about you, and since I like you, since we’re friends, that can’t be a bad thing. I guess I feel that maybe just knowing that there are people out there who are willing to listen and not judge you might be helpful. I dunno. Honk honk!
    If I jumped off a ferry, I’d get eaten by an orca. Ow! No ferry jumping for stimpy.

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