Seeing Glass Instead of Anything Past It

by Christian Parreno

Dream: I saw rows of foreshortened faces over which faint emotions played like the light of distant fire. The placid hopelessness of adulthood. The complex regret. One or two, the most alive, looked better in an objectless way. Many  others looked blank as the faces on coins. At the edges were office workers bustling at the endless small tasks involved in mailing, filing, sorting, their faces blankly avid, filled with the mindless energy you see in bugs, weeds, birds. The dream seemed to take hours, but when I’d come awake Superman’s arms (the clock was a gift) would be in the same position as the last time I looked.

This dream was my psyche teaching me about boredom. I think I was very often bored as a child, but boredom is not what I knew it as – what I knew was that I worried a lot. I was a fretful, nervous, anxious, worried boy. These were my parents’ words, and they became mine. Wet distended Sunday afternoons, while my mother and brother were at a recital and my father lay asleep on the couch in front of a Bengals game, with the libretto to Norma open on his chest, I felt the sort of soaring, ceilingless tedium that transcends tedium and becomes worry. I do not recall the things I worried about, but I remember the feeling, and it was an anxiety whose lack of a proper object is what made it horrible, free-floating. I’d look out the window and see the glass instead of anything past it.

Wallace, David Foster (2011) The Pale King. New York – USA: Little Brown Company. 253-54