Each morning, as I open my laptop, I’m confronted by the fleeting shame of the prior night’s guilty pleasures – the final frame of the Game of Thrones episode we had watched in bed hours before. Rising early in the dark, coming to my desk while the world around me is quiet feels virtuous. Remembering that I fell asleep watching men argue over who would be “warden of the north,” with the clanging of their swords following me into my dreams: well the sheen of virtue does tarnish a bit.
I am reading Kate Colby’s Dream of the Trenches, and am reminded of how sustaining it is to have friends whose work you admire. The book is composed of two parts: one long lyric essay, and then a series of tiny (150-word) ones. Kate’s concerns are mid-life, motherhood, writing, reading, knowing and unknowing, the way a life seems at times to collapse in on itself. She observes and interrogates language with such relentless precision.
From “Driving to Margaret’s Mother’s Memorial Service:”
The smell of rain on hot pavement connects this moment to so many others, none of which I can remember.
Is every moment more a sequel of or serial with the one before?
A conundrum’s a semantic impasse, not an actual condition of the world.
When you start habitually narrating yourself it begins to feel as though a thing hasn’t happened if you can’t adequately describe it. But description and narration are bound by a temporal standard that communication necessitates. So you become dependent on description for experience, and then the description compromises the experience with its falsifying strictures. Sometimes I wonder if I actually preempt some of my experiences by narrating them or as even before they happen, replacing them with their own anticipatory representations.
None of my closest friends watch Game of Thrones for reasons I cannot argue against: “Too sexist, too violent, too many dragons.” “I just can’t bear all the blood sounds.” I can’t say why, entirely, that I enjoy something that I would normally not expect I would. There is spectacle. I find the actors quite riveting. There is something too about character development that M and I will often talk about over breakfast, which makes it all feel a little bit like “research.” But perhaps there’s no need to try to defend it or suggest it is more than it is. A shared, fully-rendered fantasy we can escape to, where we can experience the relief and satisfaction of recognizable desires and ambitions resolved without personal consequence.
Loving Game of Thrones is also one of my very few experiences of being a “fan” of something. I don’t follow sports of any kind, can’t tell you much about popular music, don’t know what’s really going on most of the time when my twitter stream goes full-on Oscars. But Game of Thrones! I can mention it at a party or extended family gathering and people actually know what I’m talking about. There is pleasure in that too.
Leaving this off where I must for now, I feel as though I should offer some sort of meditation linking the character of Cersei Lannister in her own mid-life to Kate’s ontological inquiries. That essay will have to wait.