Mania or Ex-Uncle
“The perceptual present: the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible.”–William James.
The year that my grandfather died was the year that my mother and her sister (my aunt) both got divorced. Some glue that had been holding the appearances of our extended family in place suddenly melted away. Marx: All that is solid melts into air. Marx was referring to the tendency of capital to produce abstractions that tend to confuse the connection between symbols and objects. For example, gold is just a rock, but it means “money”, and then dollars are just green paper, but they mean “money” and now streams of LED-glowing numbers on the New York Stock Exchange are just glow-dots, but they mean “money”. Depression is the psychological equivalence with this basic, metaphysical operation of capital: to lose one’s connection to the world. My mother and her sister, my aunt, our families: the intense feeling of everything melting into air. My ex-uncle worked on Wall Street, private equity, a real abstraction man. He was a man of the type most frequently produced in New England, a prep school and squash man, the red-boned granite of his jaw set into an athletic cow catcher, always extremely ready. My aunt would not become my ex-aunt after the divorce because she is my mom’s sister. My uncle, however, is now my ex-uncle. In Michigan I paced the porch, feeling the past peeling off the underside of my mind in the sound of dial tones, static. Maybe I talked about it, maybe I drank about it. Thunderstorms lit up the great prairie underclouds, swerve, swerve down Grand River and down out on the Michigan 10. All that moonburnt light. When I get manic it is as if the radiance of the entire universe is being etched into mind from above. My voice gets louder and louder, as if I am trying to do violence to the air. The vaporous gold zooms deep into every object’s seams and vanishing points. The top of my skull lifts off and my mind unspools outwards in every direction. This is what mania feels like, expansiveness, bigger than bigness, explosiveness, eruption of a delicious feeling beyond language: infinition, to become the infinitive tense of every verb, to purify the activity of incessant and immediate sensation. The world of distant appearances conceals this gorgeousness of the act of fundamental negation, a melting, an ex-uncle, a dissociation that underlies what we have been taught to call conscious reality.
Elizeya Quate is a string of syllables written in San Francisco. Quate’s chapbook of poems cra-que-lure (Finishing Line Press, 2019) is available here: https://www.