Disinterested in Only the Fireworks

June 8, 2010

The hard part in writing a narrative of someone’s life is choosing from the abundance of details and microevents, all of them equally significant, or equally insignificant. If one elects to include only the important events: the births, the deaths, the loves, the humiliations, the uprisings, the ends and the beginnings, one denies the real substance of life: the ephemera, the nethermoments, much too small to be recorded (the train pulling into the station where there is nobody; a spider sliding down an invisible rope and landing on the floor just in time to be stepped on; a pigeon looking straight into your eyes; a tender hiccup of the person standing in front of you in line for bread; an unintelligible word muttered by a one-night stand, sleeping naked and nameless next to you). But you cannot simply list all the moments when the world tickles your senses, only to seep away between your fingers and eyelashes, leaving you alone to tell the story of your life to an audience interested only in the fireworks of universal experiences, the roller coaster rides of sympathy and judgment.

Aleksandar Hemon, Nowhere Man

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One Response to “Disinterested in Only the Fireworks”

  1. [...] painting”) and adulthood. We observe the “fireworks of universal experiences” as well as “the ephemera, the nethermoments.” Poor and at sea in landlocked Chicago, Pronek works whatever jobs he can; the book’s anger [...]

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