My mom gave me a ride here tonight, and, uh... I don’t really like to talk to her when she’s been drinking and she’s driving over ninety miles an hour because I don’t want to distract her, so I was just sitting there in the passenger seat, looking out the window, sort of musing to myself . . . I think that mothers and sons, silent in a car, sometimes exchange telepathic soliloquies, but perhaps because we sensed that this could be our last night together, that one or both of us might very well be assassinated tonight, ￼we left each other to our respective musing . . . that whole implosion of semioticity that is musing, that hypercaffeinated chatter of anthropomorphic cartoon animals in one’s head that is musing, that whole danse macabre of singing little piglets in one’s head . . . At ninety miles per hour, the empirical world rushes past in an impressionistic blur. You’re thinking, There’s some weird, retro-looking, brown, transgendered individual jerking off in the woods. And then you’re like, no, that’s a tree. But sitting there—the eternal little man, inflated with dreams of flamboyant success, but forced back on his own futility—my memories of childhood were not impressionistic at all, they were hyperrealistic. My mind’s eye—my mind’s eyeball—had shot back, it had shot back to 1961 ... and I, uh ... I could see myself at the age of five, I could see myself there so vividly . . . I was a little boy, playing in a hot concrete alley on Westminster Avenue in Jersey City, one day . . . God spoke to this little boy, as he speaks to all pure-hearted children, in his simple, binary language of blue sky and radiant sun. And suddenly, in a kind of seizure, in an explosion of unfurling clairvoyance, the boy saw everything that would ensue in his life. Everything. His entire autobiography fast-forwarded in the most extraordinary detail. The birth of his daughter, his prostate cancer, his books (every word of them!), these final moments in this food court, in this mall, tonight. Everything. So we have two of the mind’s eyeballs, the mind’s eyeball of a fifty-eight-year-old man seated in the passenger seat of his mother’s car, daydreaming as he stares out the window, and the mind’s eyeball of a drooling five-year-old boy with blond bangs seated rigidly in a concrete alley, one speeding back in time from 2014, one speeding into the future from 1961. Assuming they are traveling at approximately the same warp speed, they would collide at around 1988, the year Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, and an earthquake in Armenia killed twenty-five thousand people. These are the uncanny transtemporal ballistics of the mind’s eyeballs. And this is one of the things we (my mother and I) mean by gone with the mind.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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