Why do we always come here? I guess we’ll never know.

Before

I’m a sucker for music, just as I’m a whore for beauty. The Connells always make me feel better, and I love their songs (most of them), even though I find them difficult to recommend to other people. When I first began to realize that I like things that resist interpretation, I discovered that most of my music fit into this category. Not Depeche Mode, obviously, but that’s a holdover from youth anyway (though another youthful remnant, Blue Öyster Cult, does fit). Most of Connells’ songs are sketches of an emotion where Doug MacMillan’s voice and lines without real detail–in fact, often metaphoric in content–work to move the listener. Notable lyric: It’s gotta get better, ‘cause better’s alright. Clearly, these people know what they’re talking about.

And so that’s how I saved the world.

I would like to say I’m currently in the midst of proofing my essay Prayers to Those Who Wait for publication in The Iowa Review, but I can’t, because I’m currently in the midst of writing this blog entry. So there.

But before I leave Cafe Młyn today, I’ll have proofed the essay, and I expect that to be a sad experience. I haven’t looked at it for month upon months, haven’t read it for perhaps longer, and yesterday, just skimming through it, I found myself back in the emotional state of writing, which was an apparently successful attempt to crystallize my feelings during my dad’s sickness and after his death.

In short: I know the essay works for me, emotionally and otherwise. I don’t know if it’ll work for other people. It’s one of my writings that I’m most proud of, and it’ll be out in the open air, living on its own, in just a few months. One thing I already know about the proofs, and that I should have realized before, is that I need to change the name of a key participant. Not that this will protect her from being identified by close friends and family, who’ll recognize all the details, but to block her unwilled worldwide (boy am I hopeful) fame, especially since I haven’t heard anything from her since writing the essay, though I’ve tried to reach her.

This is also my first real confrontation with that bane of nonfiction writers: Bile from those who have been written about. One writer, I think it was Barbara Hampl, talks about this in one of her essays, about how friends fall by the wayside, distance themselves, get upset, and that, as a nonfiction writer, you have to make a choice between consideration for the truth or consideration for people. I’m likely to always (want to) choose truth, though I imagine it’ll be hard, and I’ve no chance yet to be tested.

Yesterday night I watched David Cronenberg’s Rabid in a small makeshift theater in a bar called Lokator, with only four other people, all Polish, and the Polish subtitles only emerged after eighty percent of the film had gone the way of memory.

I’ve seen Rabid before, but it was fun to watch again, especially in light of seeing Cronenberg as an auteur and as a director who’ll probably be (I mean, already is, I’m sure) studied in film classes. Cronenberg is almost always concerned with the body, and with the body as a representation of the mind or the emotions. In Rabid, the main female character has an organ in her armpit–a side-effect of a radical plastic surgery technique used to save her life through regrowing internal organs that had been damaged in a motorcycle accident–that she uses to suck the blood of other people. This is her only form of nourishment after recovering from her coma, and the side-effect of her feeding is that it causes the victims to become (wait for it) rabid. Though, in practice, the movie is more of a zombie film than disease film, a precursor to 28 Days Later, in that any victim bit or subjected to the saliva of the infected will become infected themselves, and one of the main symptoms of the infected is an urge to bite or eat other people.

REASON #1 RABID MAKES A GOOD SUBJECT FOR ANALYSIS: The organ the female character (Rose, hereafter referred to as Thorny) grows as a result of her life-saving surgery is remarkably like a penis, and looks like one in at least one shot, and, in practice, is used to penetrate the skin of whoever she’s feeding from. The first few times she feeds, the tone is definitely erotic, even though the other participant is unwilling and usually making some sort of gurgling sounds. Also, the victims don’t remember what happened to them, which somewhat calls to mind date rape drugs, though I’m not sure if they were prevalent at all in 1976, so I might just be anachronizing this interpretation of the film. Anyway, all of this brings to the fore Thorny’s taking power in a man’s world, deciding who she wants (i.e., sexually) and taking what she wants through force. Granted, this empowerment (if that’s what it is) ends up threatening society since the plague of rabidness spreads geometrically outward from each of her victims. Still, it’s a sort of feminism, even if that feminism places the woman again as a sexual predator and declares that a woman with sexual desires and the willingness to act on them will be the end of all civilization. More could be written, but I’ll not write it (now). And for those students out there surfing for things to copy into their essays, remember to cite this. Professors, sadly, can use the internet, too.

Last note: I realized yesterday that my relationship to Kraków is like my relationship to women that I like. I want Kraków to embrace me of its own volition rather than going out and trying to make myself amenable to and part of Kraków on my own. I love the city, but it fills me with the same depression and joy that relationships do (okay, technically, they aren’t relationships, they’re just potentials) since those moments of synchronicity are glorious, but those off days, those days I wonder yet again what I’m doing here, flirt with despair.

I imagine that what usually happens with women will happen here as well: Kraków will become a friend, one I trust, love, respect, one who I long to come home to.

After

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