Because I want everyone to witness my youth.
Isn’t it gorgeous?
Not like that. No, I just mean, that it’s in bloom. That’s what you’re all about, right? The showing of raw fruit, correct? Whether that’s in videos or on spring break, whatever, the amplifying of youth, the editing and volume magnifying what it means to be right there, at the point when all is allowed and your body wants everything for it, is hungry and taut, churning, an energy vortex, sucking all toward it. I mean, we’re in the same business, really, though we take vastly different approaches, of course, your Real World being kind of brutally obvious, no offense, whereas the videos at least don’t purport to be anything but what
they are—but you guys, your show claims to do more but then has a strange ability to flatten all the depth and nuance from these people.
So why are you here?
I want you to share my suffering.
You don’t seem to be suffering.
You seem happy.
Well, sure. But not always. Sometimes it’s hard. Yeah. Sometimes it’s so hard. I mean, you can’t always suffer. It’s hard to suffer all the time. But I suffer enough. I suffer sometimes.
Why do you want to share your suffering?
By sharing it I will dilute it.
But it seems like it might be just the opposite—by sharing it you might be amplifying it.
How do you mean?
Well, by telling everyone about it, you purge yourself, but then, because everyone knows this thing about you, everyone knows your story, won’t you be constantly reminded of it, unable to escape it?
Maybe. But look at it this way: stomach cancer is genetic, passed more down the female side of our family than otherwise, but because according to Beth and me my mother was done in by dyspepsia, the dyspepsia caused by swallowing too much of our tumult and cruelty, we are determined not to swallow anything, to not keep anything putrefying down there, soaking in its juices, bile eating bile . . . we are purgers, Beth and I. I don’t hold on to anything anymore. Pain comes at me and I take it, chew it for a few minutes, and spit it back out. It’s just not my thing anymore.
But if the information is in the eyes of everyone you meet . . .
Then there’s that much more sympathy coming back at us.
But it’ll get old.
Then I’ll move to Namibia.
I am an orphan of America.
So about the dilution . . .
This is where the lattice comes in.
The lattice that we are either a part of or apart from. The lattice is the connective tissue. The lattice is everyone else, the lattice is my people, collective youth, people like me, hearts ripe, brains aglow. The lattice is everyone I have ever known, mostly those my age or thereabouts—I know little else, know only six or seven people over forty, know nothing to say to them—but my people, we are still there, still able, if we start right now— I see us as one, as a vast matrix, an army, a whole, each one of us responsible to one another, because no
one else is. I mean, every person that walks through the door to help with Might becomes part of our lattice: Matt Ness, Nancy Miller, Larry Smith, Shelley Smith (no relation), Jason Adams, Trevor Macarewich, John Nunes, on and on, all these people, the people who come to us or we come to, the subscribers, our friends, their friends, their friends, who knows who knows who, a human ocean moving as one, the undulating, the wave-making—
Or like a snowshoe.
You wear snowshoes when the snow is deep and porous. The latticework within the snowshoe’s oval distributes the wearer’s weight over a wider area, in order to keep him or her from falling through the snow. So people, the connections between people, the people you know, become a sort of lattice, and the more people you know, and that know you, and know your situation and your story and your troubles or whatnot, the wider and stronger the lattice, and the less likely you are to—
Fall through the snow.
That is a mediocre metaphor.
Yes. I am working on it.
You have no problem being inside a fishbowl.
I feel like I’m already inside a fishbowl.
I feel like I’m being watched at all times.
I have no idea. I’ve always felt like people were watching me, and knew about what I’d been doing. I imagine it started with my mom, and the way she had of . . .she had amazing eyes, these small sharp eyes, always narrowing to a squint and tearing into you; she never missed anything, whether she was there seeing it or halfway around the world. She missed nothing. That’s why, for instance, I like bathrooms. I like bathrooms because usually while inside, I can be almost sure, at least more sure, that no one is watching me. I take great
comfort in places where people cannot watch me—windowless rooms, basements, small rooms. I have a pretty good hunch that people are always watching me, or thinking of watching me. Not all the time, probably very rarely are they actually watching me, but the point is, the important thing, is that it could be anytime. That’s the crucial part, that at any time, someone could be watching me. I know this.
How do you know this?
Because I’m always watching people. When I watch people I too look through them. I learned that from my mother. To glance is not enough; eyes and brains together, acting like a flock of ravenous birds, flapping, tearing, poking . . .I know everything about people when I look at them for only a moment. I can tell from their clothes, their walks, their hair and hands, I know all the bad things that they’ve done. I know how they’ve failed and how they will fail and how miserable they are.
And people are doing the same to you?
So what do you do?
Stay inside. Bedrooms are safe sometimes, if the door is closed and the blinds are down, but if the watchers are in trees, they can see certain things. Windows are fine to look out but harrowing to stand in front of. Even if you check and find that there are no people watching, the people watching can be somewhere not immediately visible. They can be beyond the reach of the naked eye. People use telescopes, binoculars. I have used telescopes, binoculars. People can be in closets. Closets should be checked. Large cabinets should be checked—it only takes a second. And large trunks. Open doors are to be avoided. Bathrooms are good. The only problem with bathrooms is the possibility of one-way mirrors. Years ago I checked all the mirrors in our house, to make sure that there were no windows behind them, with people watching. There were none.
Extended Quote is from ‘A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERGING GENIUS’ by Dave Eggers