The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2018

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JUNE 2018 Issue





I met a woman with a brain tumor in her language center. She said that she would think about what she wanted to say, then hear her thought in the voice of the person she was talking to, so it felt like they were reading her mind.

I think there is a special name for this but I can’t remember what it is.

I think “clarity” is kind of a poorly defined idea.

I think it would still work with more distance.

Or is part of the sickness that you really think you haven’t done anything wrong?

If corruption is systemic, I tend to think we should punish the system.

No I think we’re all pretty much screwed.

I’m starting to think of all men as latently violent.

I think every well-meaning critique-of-war film eventually turns into “wow, explosions look beautiful.”

Some real art people think that too.

I think of Kubrick as “good boring.”

I think he said everyone who knew how to light movies died in 1985.

I think it’s criminal how little respect disco gets.

How do I know that it’s “good”? I can’t compare it to anything.

I want to think about mania/hysteria in general. In the context of “profound experiences of art.”

Because “people like to think of themselves as smart and complicated.”

I think maybe sadness and happiness are alike, but unhappiness is different.

Pleasure is a basic human need but like, eating isn’t resistance, we just need to eat. Like if you order hot tea in a restaurant, I automatically think you’re not very fun.

Crying must release endorphins or something.

I wish I could cry for longer.

I think it’s largely unconscious, feels like a collective decision, not a chain of events.

I think panic is a decent strategy.

I think you just have to let it wash over you, like pain.

The premonition of regret.

I do all this mental preparing to the point I think it already happened.

I think of it as a very dramatic form of giving up.

The astronaut Luca Parmitano said of night in space: “It is pitch black outside, not the colour black but rather a complete absence of light.” (I think it’s just space that looks so unfathomably black. You have helmet lights so you can see your suit and what you’re working on.)

I like space but I can think about it without looking at it.

See, I think if things aren’t happening in the action then things should be happening in the mind.

I think it’s related to how you pick up your friends’ speech patterns. But more unsettling and intense.

They think of their lives as something they experience rather than control.

I just think it’s weird to sit around waiting to develop a sixth sense.

I think it’s fooling yourself into thinking you’re thinking.

I’m interested in what is necessary. Not everything but something I think.

I think it’s philosophical and physical and have not gotten a good answer.

Everything reminds me of it, but I don’t know what “it” is.





Saying outremer really gives one the feeling of looking wistfully out to sea.

It’s almost onomatopoeia.

In Korea, people go do karaoke in the middle of the day and don’t drink or anything. Not even for fun, almost. Just out of habit.

There’s a culture of anxiety that is almost encouraging: “Go ahead! Feel bad!”

Lately I’ve transitioned into breathing-underwater dreams.

It’s almost erotic.

The almost fictive level of detail is disturbing.

Luckily I was in an almost empty theater.

I think everyone looks familiar. It’s almost a pathology.

At an art talk, the critic asked the audience how many thought of themselves as artists. I almost reflexively raised my hand. He meant painters.

Which is not to say being an artist makes it OK to do horrible things. Just that almost all art is tainted by evil.

You can only be bored almost to death.

I’m almost looking forward to it.

I almost applaud the perversity of showing disaster movies on planes.

But planes aren’t dangerous, compared to almost anything else.

Notoriously, someone dies from alcohol poisoning almost every year.

Almost picked up and drank hot candle wax.

Almost started crying and then got distracted.

It’s like using whom when you don’t need to; almost a form of overcorrection.

So black it’s almost white.

It’s almost like love depends on a little suffering.

A bottomless, almost Catholic appetite for being scolded.

Almost everyone I know complains about their job.

It’s almost like an intentional setup. Unconscious self-sabotage.

It’s almost superstition.

It almost feels like you can’t say anything interesting about it.

It’s not boring to me exactly but in the initial stages, it almost feels like something to live through rather than do.

I hate it so much sometimes it almost brings me joy.



Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is a poet and essayist and the author of three collections: L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems (Black Ocean, 2016), The Self Unstable (Black Ocean, 2013), and The French Exit (Birds LLC, 2010). She is currently writing a book about disasters, forthcoming from FSG Originals. She lives in Denver.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2018

All Issues