By: Jehangir Saleh
Written: July 1, 2007
My dear friends
Some of you did not know me in the time of my youth when I worked the late shift at the Cafe’ on New Years eve, kept the company of old lonely men, listening to jazz and sipping espresso – feeling full of purpose, feeling sad but with a touch of infinity.
If you did know me then, I likely sent you my favourite Leonard Cohen poem. Leonard, in all his victimhood, decides to dance on New Year Eve, placing his hat on his concussion, despite the SS monsters, despite his STD, despite broken this or that, despite, despite, despite.
Despite is still one of my favourite words, along with perhaps and vaccum.
But on another such evening, I am writing to tell you that these words are shifting. At night I feel something changing: the language stuck to my body is being re-written, my flesh has decided to do otherwise .To tell a different story. A story more real.
If I ask you who you are, you will tell me a story. Some of it will be fiction. Some of it real.
What does real mean? Not only “correct” or “right”. Real means that you mean it. That it is important. That you would keep it that way. It is a feeling of infinity – something beyond you that you keep in your story. Just like Kant’s sublime, or Plato’s Form of the Good. Plato asks Socrates to describe something beyond the world. Socrates, lost for description, uses the metaphor of the sun: the sun being something from which everyone comes to be. This beyond knowledge or language, yet Plato takes what is beyond and weaves it into his narrative of metaphysics as the Form of the Good. He makes the infinite real. Impossible, of course, except in a story. I’m not sure how yet, but the research I was doing trying to understand the experiences of chronically ill patients , like myself, is tied into all of this. It too was about something beyond.
Please forgive me if I sound spiritual or campy. That is not where I wish to go. I am struggling with language.
This is what I have learned. What all of you, directly and indirectly, have taught me. These are some fragments that are becoming increasingly important to me.
I wanted to write to thank you; in my sloppy, hobbling manner, this is what I am pushing toward.