“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.
“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.