Saturday, March 3, 2007

Part II, Chapter LXVI: Which Treats of What He Who Reads Will See, Or What He Who Has It Read To Him Will Hear

Beware, ye cowards; stay your hands! Let it be touched by none. For this adventure, O good king, was meant for me alone.

The drab and dreary winter days of this season are not exactly conducive to socially creative moments, so one usually discovers oneself at the highest level of comfort when enthralled in an introverted fictitious state. I have now passed my last two such seasons in rain city by reading longer pieces of literature that preoccupy my thoughts with ideas of escape; testing both my stamina concerning attention and senility. This winter’s setting is far different from that of the winter passed in both the literary and physical sense. While last winter I had no apparent direction or desire, leaving me with endless opportunities to stay in bed and thumb through the exhausting footnotes and tangents of David Foster Wallace, this current winter I find myself juggling (note the three items that allow this description proper usage) graduate studies, evening shifts at a musical venue, and the sensible dementia of the Man of La Mancha.

Don Quixote became my decision to prevent me from climbing the walls during this bleak season through discussion with a fellow coworker around late autumn. He would have a seat next to me in the break room and immediately ask me how Joyce, Kafka or Pynchon was coming along and I would reply that all are entertaining, but that I am searching for a novel that I may absorb myself in for the coming gloom. You see I was already anticipating that a mood similar to last winters was on the horizon, so I was reviewing shorter accounts of authors whose masterpieces would be exemplary for anticipated conditions. He would explain that he was reading this great adventure, of which I knew of in name and a few pieces that continuously reappear when its title is mentioned (i.e. windmills mistaken for giants and the proverbs of Sancho Panza), and how it has become referred to as the “Spanish Bible” since coined by philosopher Miguel de Unamuno. Continuing on, he would state how there isn’t a lot missed in translation, that it has proved excellent in standing the test of time, and a handful of other clich├ęs that somehow seemed genuine. So it was through this continuous dialogue that I was convinced to select the Knight of Mournful Countenance to help pass the time.

With the weather beginning to shift from warm days and brisk evenings to wet days and wetter evenings, I went to Powell’s Bookstore with my new housemate on one such evening. It was there that I began my illusory escape in between the rows of well-stocked bookshelves in the Blue Room. The adventure of this lengthy novel would keep my thoughts enchanted for the next couple of months, but in fact the real undertaking lied in all of the locales and situations where I would comprehend these retreats. The travels took place in neighborhood coffee shops listening to Grizzly Bear, and coffee shops miles away overhearing the studies of nurses-in-training reciting anatomical features and functions. The journeys occurred during my last moments of consciousness as I lay beneath my covers, and as I awoke to cups of hot chocolate in my living room listening to talk radio. The jaunts passed as I sat stoned on a friend’s couch in Olympia, and as I sat drunk in my Illinois bedroom after returning home from a night of town’s square inebriation. The excursions happened as I sat motionless on an airplane returning to my home in Oregon, and as I sat restless on a stool in the hallways of my place of employment. The campaigns continued as I posted up in a nook on the fourth floor of Cramer Hall awaiting my course on map design, and as I departed campus seated on the number nine bus down Powell Boulevard. The voyages went on as I sat high in the mezzanine of the Crystal Ballroom checking identification during a noisy concert, and as I reclined in the same break room where this adventure was concocted trying to convince myself that I don’t despise the prior. These wonderful and arcane adventures were experienced in a myriad of places and situations that are unique to myself, but through an adventure that has been experienced in innumerable places and situations by millions. My own quest concluded yesterday in two fitting places. It began as I walked over to the Clinton Street Corner with the enduring housemate seated next to a window where I could occasionally peer out of and view puddles expanding by relentless raindrops while sipping on a couple of cups of hot-than-warm coffee. And finished as I sat in a stool at the bookstore where I had purchased this splendid paperback just three months prior. I was seated next to a friend and separated from the drab and dreary day by a window two feet from my eyes as I turned the page for the final time. The great adventure consummated with the last notes of a Will Oldham album and the beloved hero passing away comfortably with those who shared in his tale beside him.