Who said it first: Kanye West or Ralph Waldo Emerson?
1. TO BE GREAT IS TO BE MISUNDERSTOOD.
2. I ACCEPT THE IDEA (IDEAL) THAT PERCEPTION IS REALITY.
3. I UNDERSTAND CULTURE. I AM THE NUCLEUS.
4. I BECOME A TRANSPARENT EYEBALL. I AM NOTHING. I SEE ALL.
5. WOULD YOU BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN IF YOU WERE THE ONLY ONE WHO BELIEVED IT?
Flaubertian realism, like most fiction, is both lifelike and artificial. It is lifelike because detail really does hit us, especially in big cities, in a tattoo of randomness. And we do exist in different time signatures. Suppose I am walking down a street. I am aware of a police siren, a building being demolished, the scrape of a shop door. Different faces and bodies stream past me. And as a I pass a cafe, I catch the eye of a woman, who is sitting alone. She looks at me, I at her. A moment of pointless, vaguely erotic urban connection, but the face reminds me of someone I once knew, and sets a train of thought going. I walk on, but that particular face in the cafe glows in my memory, is held there, and is being temporally preserved, while around me noise and activities are not being similarly preserved—are entering and leaving my consciousness. The face, you could say, is playing at 4/4, while the rest of the city is humming along more quickly at 6/8.
The artifice lies in the selection of detail. In life, we can swivel our heads and eyes, but in fact we are like helpless cameras. We have a wide lens, and must take whatever comes before us. Our memory selects for us, but not much like the way literary narrative selects. Our memories are aesthetically untalented.
-James Wood, from How Fiction Works
- Hannah has recently joined the world of online dating since all of her friends are in fucking couples and go on fucking double dates and she is tired of spending Friday nights in talking to Jessa’s cat.
- Jessa’s cat lives with Hannah because after 33 years of being staunchly single, Jessa has a serious boyfriend and has forgotten about her cat.
- Hannah goes on an online date with a seemingly normal, nice, down-to-earth dude. He takes her to drink whiskey and sing karaoke and steals her a cupcake. He texts her when she gets home: “I had an amazing time tonight…”
- Hannah tells her friends how nice it is to hang out with a “grown-ass” dude. Who sends follow-up texts! “He’s like…remember Adam? He’s like an Adam who has figured his shit out. Like, he’s in a band but he also works at a nonprofit and is like, DONE with the partying and wants to buy a house in the woods and shit.”
- Hannah then hears nothing from grown-up Adam. She sends him a friendly, “hey, wanna hang out?” GUA texts back, “sounds like so much fun, but I have a band rehearsal! Can’t wait to hang out soon!”
- Two weeks pass.
- Hannah debates deconstructing the texts with the other Girls, but stops herself. “No,” she says out loud, to no one. The era of deconstructing cryptic texts is over, an art best left to 20somethings. If you have to deconstruct, the answer is no, or, to steal an aphorism from another HBO series, “He’s Just Not That Into You.”
- Hannah lines up another online date. The morning of, she wakes up with a throbbing pain in her mouth. Panicked, she goes to the dentist. He shoots her up full of novocaine and performs something called a “root planing” and yells about flossing. I mean, like, really puts the fear of god into her about flossing. “Dbo yuer shink she nvockain werl wer off bey 8?” she asks. She reschedules date.
- Hannah spends every consecutive night neurotically flossing and swishing medicated mouth wash while the cat stares at her from on top of the toilet.
- Original Adam announces on facebook that he and his 24 year old girlfriend are having a baby. Adam is now 34. When he met this girlfriend he quit smoking and started drinking kale smoothies.
- Hannah googles “at what age should you freeze your eggs?”
- Hannah googles “shooting mouth pains.”
- Hannah clicks on “uncurable trigeminal neuralgia.”
- Hannah ponders a life of chronic pain and misdiagnoses.
- Hannah takes too much codeine and cuts her bangs.
- Because she spent her 20s fucking up her bangs she knows what she is doing now, even in an opiate haze. Crisis averted. But once when she was 22 she had to wear a headband for a whole month straight.
- Rescheduled Date dutifully texts things about health wishes and hopes for enjoying the sunshine together…