On feelings of profound loss

I lose my notebook for several hours and then I lose my mind. In fact, I often feel these days as if I am losing my mind. It has something to do with the gravity of the news. And a sense of physical exhaustion so profound that one afternoon, while out for a walk, I stop, curl into a ball in a warm spot on a neighbour’s porch and sleep in the sun for half an hour. (They aren’t there of course and haven’t been there for months, nor now, under lockdown in a city somewhere, are they likely to show up any time soon. Being able to nap on another’s porch during a plague is one of the advantages of living in the middle of nowhere, to living in what I’ve taken to calling, in the wake of reading Olga Tokarczuk’s hilariously painful rural detective story, Drive your plow over the bones of the dead, the deep rural, that place where life happens according to rules other than those laid out in cities and shared on smart phones that may or may not work, given the direction of the wind. Who is there to see or report on you—the crows?)

Every nerve is frayed. I try to put a happy face on it all; doing my work, preparing a good meal, but I feel nanoseconds from a meltdown or a vicious headache. The way we’re living? Unsustainable.

No night seems long enough. No night seems long enough; when we wake the nightmare continues. Even when I dream I’m packing boxes, shuffling, being harassed by stupid, officious authorities. Sleep offers faint to little respite. How can I be this tired every night and still unrested? I say almost nothing but every day I feel as if I am screaming louder and louder.

Marguerite Derrida. We learn, via someone’s post on Facebook, that Marguerite Derrida–or as she was also known, Marguerite Aucouturier, psychoanalyst and translator of many analytic works into French–has died of complications from COVID-19. This makes her, I think, the first person that I have known who has fallen to this virus. She was in her late 80s, living in a retirement home in Paris when she died in late March. With her has gone a whole world, one commentator in Le Monde says. I think of her, restless, waiting at the door of a room full of pontificating men. She passes me a note, proposes leaving, going to a wine bar around the corner. I agree, and when we get outside she explodes. Speaking of Lyotard, already in his third hour of rambling extemporaneous commentary, the latest in a line of philosophers to run over their allotted times at this day-long event on liberty, she says, That man! He never shuts up! We laugh, at liberty at last to stand up, to move, and to eat and drink and talk, ourselves.

23 March 2020 from Eskikewa’kik, one of the seven districts of Mi’kma’ki, on unceded and ancestral land of the Mi’kmaq Nation, from a site of isolation also known as West Quoddy Nova Scotia.

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