Monday, February 21, 2005

For whom the bell tolls

I shall I put it? Sullen. Sullen intermixed with a pinch of numb and sad. Sometimes, for a bit of variation, I add a bit of pissy/bitchy/cranky into the equation. The mood combinations usually go something like this: Sullen/sad. Sullen/numb/sad. Sad/bitchy/cranky.

Sometimes I am deep into a good sullen groove, and then suddenly somebody will say or do something to catapult me abruptly into full-on cranky mode. I'll be staring out the window, thinking vague depressing thoughts. The gray skies, the trees bending awkwardly in bleak wind, the smallest flakes of snow melting on the salted sidewalk. And then..that guy with the extremely wet hacking irritating cough? COUGH COUGH COUGH. Yeah you, asshole. Go get a bottle of cough syrup, or go home or something, you are bugging the LIVING SHIT out of me with your constant phlegm-globbers over there. OK. Where was I? Oh, yes, the bleak February skies, the cold ducks shivering on the frozen pond.

And so forth.

Actually, I am three quarters through reading a most enjoyable book which has a recurring theme that sums up the feeling rather nicely. The book attracts comparisions to a certain series about a Mr H. Potter, a lazy and not entirely accurate sort of conjoining of genres, indicative of careless critical pigeonholing. I mean, really, is every novel with the word "magic" in the text ever published for the rest of time going to be compared in this way? Let us hope not.

Anyway, the book, which has a leisurely pace, is about eight babillion pages long, with incredibly detailed footnotes. (The footnotes alone could actually be an entire book- I happen to like that kind of thing very much). I won't try to explain the plot, which is both straightforward and convoluted at the same time, except to say that it is set in England, in the early nineteenth century. And certain characters keep getting drawn/kidnapped/lost in a very eerie and otherworldly faerie land.

This is not a pretty faerie land of daisies, tinkerbells and small talking toadstools. No, this is something else entirely- bleak, ancient, discordant, spectacularly grand but at the same time dark, dark, dark. The transfer into this world is usually accompanied by the mournful tolling of a peculiar, far-away bell. Throughout the book, the sound of this bell signals that a shift is taking place, and with it a sense of uneasy dislocation.

I hear a bell of my own lately. One moment I'll be trundling along, engaged in some task, or conversation. And then, usually without warning, a distant melancholy ringing. When I look up, I realise I have lost my place. Instead I find myself trapped in some strange gray landscape, with the faint taste of salt and tears in my mouth. Some days, it's so very hard to bring myself back again.

It can be difficult to properly explain this fugue state, particularly people who have never been there. Sometimes lately, when I speak of it to people outside of blog land- I see a certain look in their eyes. A look which says, "Oh dear, is she still going on about that? I thought they had decided to fix it, so why don't they just get on with it already? How long has it been now? Really, one of these days she is simply going to have to accept that this is the way things are. Pull herself together and stop talking about all this emotional stuff. Like strange bells. There is no bell. I don't hear a bell."

Of course by that point, the sad ringing is usually overwhelmingly loud. It drowns out their voices, and their quizzical eyes.
By that point, I am already far, far away. Wishing someone would cough, or slurp their coffee, or chew their potato chips with their mouth open- if only to jerk me back to this world, and anchor me with anger.


At 8:58 PM, Anonymous deborah said...

Oh Mare, I know this state all too well...actually touched upon it in my own post today. If I had the antidote, I'd certainly share it with you. But as it is, I can only offer you a virtual shoulder to sigh on.

At 10:52 PM, Blogger Suz said...

I know this strange land and you do not have to wander it alone. I'm right here with you in the fog and darkness, wishing that I had the power to bring both of us out.

At 11:11 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

Thinking of you, dear Mare.

At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmm...yes...I know the sound of the bell all to well.

It tolls for me too, my dear.


At 4:07 AM, Blogger Anna H. said...

I've been curious about that book and now am going to go and check it out -- I'm hoping that getting lost in a different world will be an antidote to the rainy, grey days we've been having here lately. Sometimes a good book is the only thing that will do it.

We're all here with you Mare, sitting around your virtual fireplace, trying to keep the grey at bay... a little more wine?


At 5:54 PM, Blogger E. said...

Exactly. Yes. I've been getting those "why doesn't she just move on" vibes A LOT these days. I want to scream at these vibers that if they were in our shoes, they'd be doing and feeling just what we are.

I'm sorry Mare. Very sorry.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger Pamplemousse said...

Who are these fuckwits? Can we go round and sort them out for you, Mare? I could do with a little therapeutic punching. Sorry you are feeling, what I would term, "hingy". I think it is the late Feb malaise.

At 7:13 PM, Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

Oh yes, I'm familiar with the grey parts. They're almost worse than the black bits. In the blackest moments at least it's visceral and sharp like biting your tongue and tasting blood in your mouth. With the grey it's almost interminable and so lifeless.

I'm sorry, Mare. I wish there was somehting I could do.


At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Menita said...

Try as I might (and I have tried and tried and tried) I just do not get them. Fuckwits is right.
The grey land is such an exact metaphor.
I'm sorry, Mare.

At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Mare, fugue state. So brilliantly put. I got the 'I can't believe she's still going on about that' looks and that's when I started cutting them out of my life. They were only there when I didn't need them and that didn't help.

Thinking of you.


At 2:38 AM, Blogger Cass said...

You might also enjoy the Philip Pullman "Dark Materials" trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) - good reading, and also involves crossing between worlds.

I figure, having another book on standby (and a cozy blanket, and a bottle of wine) is as good a way to muddle through as any other...

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Mudbug said...

There is really nothing like a big engrossing book (preferably with lots and lots of overkill footnotes) to keep your mind off things. I second Cass's excellent suggestion of the His Dark Materials trilogy and I just ordered your book for my very own self. Perhaps we should start an IF Fugue Book Club?


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