Dizzy – Padgett Powell (from Unsaid One)

The aerie feather-brained quality is upon me today, I am slightly dizzy and nauseated. Got to ride over to the foundry and smelt some ore. My eyeglasses are featuring that snot-smeared effect. I hate that. My buddy was chased by a pack of dogs that scared him so bad he shat a little in his pants, and he hates that. I knew several distinguished older men who have died who had a better grip on things than I do. I wonder if they can see me floundering. I know that one of them in particular, with a scotch and pretty women about him in heaven, would enjoy sending annoying telegrams of advice like Buck upif he could. Most of them, though, I suppose would elect not to send a telegram even if they could. This is why they were regarded as distinguished on earth. They had the astute capacity not to deign, presume, meddle. They hunkered down within the castle walls of their particular potency, whatever it was, and did not send a loose emissary of themselves about the uncharted ground of their purlieu. It seems to me that if you do not deign, presume, and meddle, though, that the forces of the world at large, sometimes in the form of a kind of anonymous aggregate power, will pile up on you in an ambient deigning and presuming and meddling that will render you helpless. It is this way today: I am helpless here, dizzy and looking through badly fouled glasses at the bright, challenging world. Of course a nonanonymous, specific, particular force can deign, presume, and meddle with you also, like the phone company, or Ms. Trujillo at the phone company, who might withal be said to be but an accidental agent of aggregate force. But if, say, oh, you get the picture, you must, you are in the picture yourself. If you don’t get the picture and fancy yourself not in it, I would say you are deigning to presume and are meddling with me, tacitly accusing me of being off rocker a bit. You are part of the problem. But I do not think that you are part of the problem. I think you are with me. I think you and I could dance across this floor of doubt in a cuddly promenade if we could know what our feet are up to. If I knew what my feet were up to, I would be distinguished, alive or dead. It is easier to be distinguished dead than alive. I have lost the capacity to make a fist with my head, is what I mean. It is a matter of mental muscle tone, and I’ve gone as slack as pudding. I need to drink me some brain Jell-O, get some pearls growing in that oyster. At the very least I’ve got to wash my glasses and shut up.

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