The showroom today has the noxious air and bubbling instability of a malfunctioning nuclear reactor. I am hiding in the back office while the other three take turns bitching at each other. One used the other’s CVS card without asking, one is incessantly neurotic, one is a liar, one is going on vacation tomorrow and doesn’t want to speak to the others until then, one’s voice causes the other’s skin to horripilate. It is a depressing circus punctuated by pregnant, agitated silence.

Typically, I’d go hide in our old showroom upstairs, where no one bothers me and I can be alone and read a passage of Spengler’s Decline of the West and reach a word like “Babylonian” or a phrase like “Battle of Actium” and immediately fly into a prolonged dream sequence, my feet propped up or else dragging me around in circles like a somnambulist, during which I receive most of my writing. It’s all unintelligible at that point, like listening to someone speak underwater. But that doesn’t matter at all. It’s all there, inchoate, quiet, dribbling in the calm babble of Courbet’s “The Source of the Loue.”

Anyway, I can’t go hide today. I feel like shit and if I go upstairs I’ll simply lie on the floor and sleep. I haven’t had a drink in three days — that’s how you know I’m sick. I wish I wasn’t, so I could know what I feel like without booze. Maybe I’ll keep the streak going when I start to feel better. Then again, the weekend is coming up… My girlfriend referenced the quarantine episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, when they all thought they were sick with the flu but were actually withdrawing from alcohol. Hahaha… Do you really think so?… No, no, of course not… Do you?… No, I don’t think so… Let’s see how I feel tomorrow…

The Source of the Loue, Gustave Courbet

There’s quite a lot swimming in my head lately and I feel quieter, more subdued. I feel myself retreating. Groups overwhelm me. Hellos and goodbyes make me feel like a marionette. I reject drugs of all kinds, something the Ryan of another period would scoff at. I find speaking to be a mutilation of what’s happening in my mind; I don’t speak for most of the day. My dreams have taken a complex turn and bring me in touch with people and places that are so familiar and complicated that I’m not sure what is real and what isn’t when I wake up. I have a terrible time waking up in the morning. Something is changing. I’ll see where it goes.

In the meantime, I fill my time with books. As I mentioned, Spengler’s Decline of the West, but also Huysman’s A rebours, Miller’s Rosy Crucifixion III, a reread of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and Knut Hamsun’s Wanderers. I was at my parents’ house this weekend with several of these. My dad could not understand how I read multiple books at once. “I haven’t read multiple books in my life,” he said. He was particularly confounded by Decline of the West, because it’s over a thousand pages with the world’s most comically minute print. “You’re really gonna read that?” he asked. I nodded. “Why?”

There was a time when I’d get annoyed at that question. Christ, I am so glad to have a relationship with my parents now. I arrived on Saturday to find my mom sunbathing and my dad cracking open a Budweiser. My brother’s dog did somersaults with excitement to see me, the fat, handsome little bastard. Connor got back from the store and thrust a six-pack of Miller High Life at me. “Three stores,” he said. “Three stores to find that shit.” “I would’ve drank anything, man…” “Yeah, but you like this one.” We hastily filled out my mom’s birthday card while Connor critiqued my handwriting. “Brodie, it got so much worse.” “I don’t have time to wait for my hand. My brain is going too fast. That’s why I type most of the time when I’m writing. I need to keep up.” “Check mine out.” He wrote a short message and signed his name. “See?” He smirked and nodded. “See that? Eh?” “I see,” I said, and signed my own name. “Still,” he said, “yours isn’t terrible. It’s satisfying to watch you do it.”

A Eunuch’s Dream, Jean Lucomte du Nuoy

After a few beers and the catch-up chats, a quick dip in the pool and an argument about whether “Greetings from Asbury Park” or “The Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle” is the best Springsteen album, Connor and I got in the car to pick up from Lee’s. When we walked in, the bartender pointed and said, “Langans?” We looked at each other and nodded. “Knew it,” he said. “What’s up?” We told him we were picking up for Paul. He grabbed our pizza and calamari and said, “Tell Paul I said to stop by sometime.”

I digress. Dreaming again. It’s nice to roll recent memories over the palate of the mind as if mulling a fine Chambertin. This dream was interrupted by a phone call. “William Yeoward Crystal, Ryan speaking. Yes. Okay. No. We don’t have that anymore. No. No. That is decided by our marketing director, not me. I’m only part-time. He’s located in the UK. It’s after five there now, so… No, I can’t help you.” It gives me a very subtle, very pleasing feeling to say that to people. I can’t help you. One of my little victories against the masses. They’re all going to shit anyway. No one can help them, no one can help anyone anymore. This is the end — this is the twilight of our civilization, the sails outstretched and billowing toward stranger shores, the world burning as we scramble for a last word. I haven’t found my last word yet…




To meditate on the warmest dream

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Ryan Langan

Ryan Langan

To meditate on the warmest dream

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