my austrian gorge

I rung in the New Year with a vicious bout of gastroenteritis. It felt like 2012 was clawing its way out of my body. And now that it is gone I am empty. Perhaps it is good to start another year empty. Fill me up, 2013.

People say don’t take your health for granted. Every time I am ill I am reminded of this. For the world seen through sickened eyes is not the same as that seen through healthy eyes. One moves through life with somnambulistic motions. Gone are the little tendrils of thought so often coursing off in all directions. A single-mindedness takes over. I must drink some water. I must lie down. I must walk the dog. I must lie down again. Mere survival. Reading becomes impossible. Too much focus required. Staring into space becomes commonplace. Or glazing over in front of the telescreen. Anything to dull consciousness of the ill feelings.

Yesterday I worked from home. I was not well enough to return to the office, but there was work to be done, and I felt capable of doing it. Besides, the last thing I wanted to do was spread this plague to anyone else. I always find that I am more productive and efficient when I work from home. I’m not sure why this is. It may be that I am able to work in front of a window at home. One might think that this would lead to distraction and daydreaming but such is oddly not the case. I find it comforting. My bird friends come to visit, alighting in the crepe myrtle branches and hopping about on the porch roof. It keeps my spirits up and my mind focused on task. At the office I sit in a dim windowless womb in front of two screens, impassively observing my soul die a laborious death, each email and meeting appointment a tiny wound I am too dulled to deflect (in his typically dark style, Thomas Bernhard once wrote: “Instead of committing suicide, people go to work”).

Coming out of illness now, I am feeling tentative. My diet remains bland and simple. I miss coffee. The world still seems an unforgiving place. Outside the wind howls, chilling my weakened frame. But I can read again, and I find solace in Bernhard’s novel Correction. It is the perfect book for right now, with its hypnotic cadence, repetition, lack of paragraph breaks, dark subject matter. I feel poised above a rushing gorge in the Austrian wilderness.

Perhaps this is the worst 2013 had to hurl at me. Toxins now purged, I feel ready.

Soundtrack to this post:

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry — Nothing Wrong
Shipping News — Flies the Field
Metroschifter — Schift-Ship

Leave a comment


  1. Glad you’re on the mend. When I had my psychotic break and wanted to kill myself and was admitted to the hospital for the first time they asked me why I thought I was there. I said I didn’t want to go to work. Score on that quotation.

    • Thanks. I was just reading Correction and came across this quote that made me think about your comment in response to my post on all the Annes in my life: “Everything is what it is, that’s all. If we keep attaching meanings and mysteries to everything we perceive, everything we see that is, and to everything that goes on inside us, we are bound to go crazy sooner or later.”

  2. Richard L Guinn

     /  January 4, 2013

    What a rough way to start off the new year… glad you’re recuperating!



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