Betsy Shebang - Column for 9/4

Putting the "Anal" back into "Analysis"

Okay, I was still moving last weekend and I was packing for Burning Man, so I just forgot about my column until the "No Column" thing appeared. Today, I'm not yet recovered from the desert of sleeplessness, I've had today to finally move the boxes of shit out of the living room and kitchen, and I gotta go back to work tomorrow, so I'm typing directly into the "Netscape: Column Control Page" input screen. Sins, all. Let's move on.

Big argument with my wife before I left for the desert. I'd been spouting about how Burning Man is a big community creative spiritual blah blah blah until she finally told me to shut the fuck up (I'm paraphrasing) and just go do the thing, don't think about it so much I come home without experiencing it and for god's sake, don't tell her the same analytical bullshit that I've been telling her for so long. Huh? Didn't the marital vows say something about listening to the analytical bullshit of one's beloved spouse? Doesn't she know that this has all been terribly insulting and hurtful? (sob whimper sob) Doesn't she - aww, fuck it; she's right. Still pisses me off, of course. Balancing the scale of self-righteous victory is the whole challenge of marriage; the rest is just filling the gas tank.

So, am I wasting my whole life being analytical? Problem with that question: the more you ponder it, the more you know the answer. I tried not to ponder it. I tried to spend a whole week without analyzing. Fuck it, a day. An hour. A phone call. It's like nicotine, except the pack can't be taken away or left at home in your other pants.

Arrived at Burning Man, still pissed at my wife, who'd stayed home where the air is not filled with dust and pretentions of cosmic significance. I was happy and depressed. Why was I here? To look at tits? To be in the presence of people who did stuff instead of thinking about doing stuff? (Duh!)

Had a blast at Burning Man. Met cool people, saw cool shit, drove around Reno at 1 am Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend looking for a hotel room that cost less than $200; found nothing at all. Followed by a gaggle of panting Greyhound bus passengers whose coach had broken down. They carried their luggage with them as they waddled from full seedy hotel to full seedy hotel. I invested $3 in bottles of Mountain Dew and drove home. Arrived at 5 am, car choked with dust inside and out.

The caffiene didn't keep me awake but the stomachache did. Brain entered fascinating state of division, whereby the abstract thoughts that spiral into sleep were held off, even while the illusion that my brain contains only one person fell into exhausted collapse. Knowledge of suddenly-obvious things I could not see in daylight flooded my shaking head. I would struggle to note a few thoughts in my journal the next morning, in huge letters that were all my still-vibrating fingers could scribble.

Decided that life and life's thoughts are divided into two bins: stories and essays, representing the difference between the soul and the intellect. Stories are delightful and revealing and people like hearing them, since they speak of the soul and/or the body, like a good striptease. Nobody gets tired of watching people take off their clothes. If they say they do, they're lying to cover up their loneliness and frustration.

Essays are for people who want to learn shit that the writer knows. My wife doesn't want me to teach her stuff; she ain't my student. Any analysis I do can be helpful only to my students. I don't currently have students - only friends who pretend to be impressed with my latest theorems so that we'll keep being friends. Perhaps I need my friends for different reasons now than to convince me my thoughts are worth thinking.

Analysis itself means "Telling myself what I already know." It's very comforting, like masturbation is comforting, which is to say it's comforting in that dissatisfying way that promises to be better next time. But, well, maybe I have better things to do. You know. Stories to write. People to cuddle up with in unpredictable silence. Stuff I've been putting off. Stuff I've been thinking about so I wouldn't have to do it. That stuff.

Copyright 2001 Betsy Shebang

Columns by Betsy Shebang

Columns by Betsy Shebang