Ben Lerner

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5 Fragments (saved in 2017)

Nothing in the world, I thought to myself, is as old as what was futuristic in the past.

Would you know what he meant if the author said he never really saw her face, that faces were fictions he increasingly could not read, a reductive way of building features in the memory, even if that memory was then projected into the present, onto the area between the forehead and the chin? He could, of course, enumerate the features: gray-blue eyes, what they call a full mouth, thick eyebrows that she was probably careful to have threaded, a small scar high on the left cheek, and so on. And sometimes these features did briefly integrate into an higher-order unity, as letters integrate into words, words into sentence. But like words dissolving into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and plots, combining these element into a face required forgetting them, letting them dematerialize into an effect, and that somehow never happened for long with Hannah.

"I promised to pass through a series of worlds with you," I remembered from her vows.

His narrator was characterized above all by his anxiety regarding the disconnect between his internal experience and his social self-presentation.

So much of the most important personal news I'd received in the last several years had come to me by smartphone while I was abroad in the city that I could plot on a map, could represent spatially the events, such as they were, of my early thirties. Place a thumbtack on the wall or drop a flag on Google Maps at Lincoln Center, where, beside the fountain, I took a call from Jon informing me that, for whatever complex of reasons, a friend had shot himself; mark the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, where I read the message (\"Apologies for the mass e-mail...\") a close cousin sent out describing the dire condition of her newborn; waiting in line at the post office on Atlantic, the adhan issuing from the adjacent mosque, I received your wedding announcement and was shocked to be shocked, crushed, and started a frightening multi week descent, worse for being so embarrassingly cliched; while in the bathroom at the SoHo Crate and Barrel--the finest semipublic restroom in lower Manhattan--I learned I'd been awarded a grant that would take me overseas for a summer, and so came to associate the corner of Broadway and Houston with all that transpired in Morocco; at Zucotti Park I heard my then-girlfriend was not--as she'd been convinced--pregnant; while buying discounted dress socks at the Century 21 department store across from Ground Zero, I was informed by text that a friend in Oakland had been hospitalized after the police had broken his ribs. And so on: each of these experiences of reception remained, as it were, in situ, so that whenever I returned to a zone where significant news had been received, I discovered that the news and an echo of its attendant affect still awaited me like a curtain of beads.