Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October 12: Shingly Beach, Midterms, Drunk Dialing

Stephen Graham startled me by describing the same gift in his antique and elegant book, The Gentle Art of Tramping.  He wrote, "And as you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged on the shingly beach of a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens."  That great door opens on the present, illuminates it as with a multitude of flashing torches.

Flashing torches in an open door.  That's what happens, according to Stephen Graham, when you venture into nature and allow yourself to experience it fully, with all the appropriate sense orifices open.  The present then becomes a raging forest fire of light, sparking all the nerve endings.  I suppose that's not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Of course, I do not have the opportunity today to follow Graham's advice about tramping.  I have papers to grade, a film class to teach.  It's midterm exam time at the university.  Students are spending extra money at Starbucks to keep themselves fueled for this week's challenges.  Tonight, I will administer a midterm exam about swish pans and lap dissolves and Citizen Kane.  Because that's what college professors are supposed to do.

Of course, tomorrow morning, when my name is announced by Sara Danius in the Grand Hall of the Swedish Academy, I will probably be living in the present for quite a while.  Open door.  Flashing torches.  All that shit.  Here is what I will be doing at the appointed hour:
At around 5:45 a.m., I will be sitting at my desk in the surgery center where I work most days.  There is a phone and a computer on my desk.  I will have the live feed from Sweden open on my desktop.  The countdown clock will be ticking away.  Then, about ten or so minutes before the announcement is scheduled to be made, the phone on my desk will begin ringing.  When I pick up the receiver, I will hear a thickly Swedish voice say, "Is this Sankt Marty?" 
That is how I will learn that I am this year's recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.  And I will live in the present.  I won't need to go for a walk in the woods or climb a mountain or sprawl on a shingly beach.  I may indulge myself in a small moment of self-congratulation.  It may involve a bottle of Tanqueray and a drunk phone call to the president of the university where I teach.  Said conversation may include the phrase "suck it."

Aside from that, Saint Marty really hasn't come up with a concrete plan of action yet.

Wonder who he would drunk dial if he won?

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