now we see each other as in a mirror dimly
I’ve been going to parties again. Last night, tonight, maybe again this week. Tonight’s one was good, last night’s one was kind of farcical. It’s good to be among your species, doing the things they do. It always makes me a little grumpy and tired. All of life can become about a party that evening—there is the thrilling possibility space posed by the multiplicity of social relations among people known and not known to you. Then the possibility space collapses: it’s guys in a room, and they’re all out of salami.
Are parties, uniquely, about the denial of death? You’re burning the only candle you have, expending your bounties to show that you are not afraid. Look at this beer purchased in spite of the money I will need to hurl at my declining health, the beer placed upon these coasters, cut from the pelt of a leopard that killed seven men before it was brought to rest.
I have started meeting people more than a decade younger than me who can legally drink, who are thinking exactly the thoughts that I had, a decade ago. This turns out to be a great salve for any suspicion of your uniqueness. They are telling you that it’s shocking how animals are treated, that open debate has mind-expanding powers, that they’ve been microdosing lately, and so on. You absorb the glitter in their eyes. If you forgot who you used to be, you can just ask a smooth-skinned young man what he’s thinking about right now.
It is your responsibility if nobody is having fun. You can be livelier, more curious, increase the words per minute. But at a certain point you face the possibility that there is no latent fun in the room. To try and bring it forth would be like prodding a dead whale on the beach. All you can get is a sad last meagre explosion.
Touching in a room full of people is a kind of intimacy available in no other circumstance. Everyone is here to touch someone. But there are a million overtures and felicitations to perform first. Then, once it happens, everyone ceremonially averts their eyes, as two of the revelers depart on their own gondola of mutual attention. Otherwise the den spins on morose.
Occasionally there is the one moment of freshness and forthrightness. There is a point in your conversation that has never been reached before, like the carving of a new star in the firmament. The moment makes it all worth it, makes all your striving worth it. Star-gleam with suede smoothness infects the fattened second. Then someone else enters the conversation: they have a new startup that will change everything. You now should leave the party but you will stay for five more minutes.