Discover more from outside bones
Cheese to running
The other day I was in my kitchen, bathing in the cold white light of the refrigerator and eating cheese. It was a simple Baby Bel cheese unit, the red wax clasped in my hand in sensory satisfaction as I bit into the firm wheel. “God, I love cheese,” I thought to myself. And something occurred to me.
As you may know, I hate occurrences. I don’t prefer them over the nullity of the void that awaits us all. Loving cheese, like other things, is an event or experience that occurs, and even if it is a pleasant one, it is the sort of existing-in-a-time-and-space-and-inhabited-body phenomenon that always leads to ruin. That being said, pleasure, like good men, is hard to find, and perhaps any moment of it is worth attention, even if simply to gain more information about how to find or avoid it.
Anyway, the thought that occurred to me was this: there are many things I enjoy, but the joy where I feel compelled to narration is unique to eating. Also: by “enjoy” I mean full-on appreciate, not like mixed-enjoyment, like the feeling I get when I watch Vanderpump Rules (alienation, interest, humor, the pleasure of experiencing the strange via a particular dominant media and performance culture mode of transmission) or, sometimes, hearing my child laugh (love, wonder, the pang of shared separateness). I mean something approaching a purity of pleasure, of joy, that even if that joy becomes compromised the act itself that it invents remains untarnished and maybe kind of free. I like to ride my bike. I like to read books. I like hiking. But I can’t think of a time when I was doing those activities that, while I was riding my bike, for example, I thought to myself “I like riding my bike.” It’s not that sublimation is common for me—quite the opposite, actually—but I just don’t think in so self-aware and immediately comprehensive ways when I am performing most activities other than eating cheese.
When I am exercising—specifically running—I have a similar formal sensation to cheese occurrences, but to a different end. The experience of running, for me, is at its best when I am most miserable. Physical misery subsumes other forms of misery—ideally—and when it does the sensation can approximate a void. When I’m running, I’m often thinking, “I fucking hate this.” The same way the thought “I love cheese” is a sensation for and by the body and the thought itself inaugurates this awareness, I am acutely aware of how much I hate moving my body at higher speeds. The experience of physical misery is, in a sense, on an even keel with cheese-filled pleasure, though, for me, because all of the other thoughts in my head at any other time feature the awareness of consciousness!
I’m thinking a lot about absence and consciousness because I am at the end of the academic job market season with no job in hand. I just looked at my hands when I wrote that to check—nothing there but creases and keyboard sweat. Cheese and running are still vital to my sense of self because, I think, as experiences they most approximate sublimation for me. Is this a problem?
The act of writing is one of the technologies that human beings use to catalog experience, with the goal of…what, exactly? By naming, I supposed, we itemize and that makes us feel in control, with consciousness itself becoming a kind of power or sense of control—or, again, an approximation thereof. I guess I want whatever cheese does but without the consciousness element, where I feel like I have to write about it.
Anyway. Just something I am thinking about. Hire me.