On Being Ill, Part 2.

“I can’t sleep. I can’t read.” I tried to speak in a cool, calm way, but the zombie rose up in my throat and choked me off. I turned my hands palm up.

— The Bell Jar/Sylvia Plath
I can’t make decisions
I can’t eat
I can’t sleep

I can’t think

— 4.48 Psychosis / Sarah Kane

I have been trying to read The Castle for months.  I like Kafka normally.  Amerika/ The Man Who Disappeared is my favourite, probably, of what I’ve read.  But all I can really consume lately has been poetry or plays or books I’m rereading.  Things that are fragmented or familiar, easily consumed and quickly understood.  A page long poem with 90 words in it, all about feelings and pretty words (not to be reductive) is much easier to take in.  And though I know I love Kafka, I look at the page and it feels like the words are slipping through my fingers like water.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 1.37.46 AM

“You’re sitting down, squished between the bench and the bar, a book open on your knees; you haven’t read in a long time.”

I watch Un Homme qui dort recently and it has the same theme: I can no longer read.  Or write or study or eat.  Then the contradictions: I can’t sleep or wake up, I can’t go out or stay in.  I can’t eat (as I finish  half a round of camembert at 2 am).  I can’t read (as I go through volumes of poetry).


I can’t function and Virginia Woolf reassures me that for many, this means that prose is too much to swallow.  Food has become a constant theme of my reading, for some reason.  I am fascinated and compelled to document it.  So to continue with the food metaphor: literature is food.  Even if you can’t stomach prose, you need some sort of sustenance.  Poetry won’t upset your stomach, maybe.


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